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The U.S. bases on Okinawa are white elephants — extravagant and dangerous ones at that — as far as the Japanese people are concerned. It has been 20 years since the Soviet empire, the erstwhile archenemy of America, collapsed and the half-century-long Cold War ended.

According to “The Military Balance 2009,” released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Japan ranks fourth in the world in defense spending ($47 billion), surpassing U.N. Security Council members France ($41 billion) and Russia ($36 billion) — whose area is 45 times larger than Japan’s.

It is a shame that Japan, which spends so much money on defense and can afford to send troops to distant places such as Iraq, Somalia and the Indian Ocean, cannot defend itself on its own and must rely on the military of a foreign power, permitting it to occupy large tracts of its land free of charge and enjoy all extraterritorial rights on a permanent basis.

No one with a normal mind would say that a country that is willing to allow many thousands of troops from a foreign country to be deployed on its territory indefinitely, for the ostensible purpose of protecting it from invasion by other countries, is entitled to full membership on the U.N. Security Council.

The new administration under the Democratic Party of Japan, which ended the 50-year-long rule of the Liberal Democratic Party, has every right to initiate a move to revise any agreement with a foreign country if it finds the agreement disadvantageous to its people, especially where Japanese sovereign territory is concerned.

mitsugi yanagita