Reader Mail

No treaty basis for U.S. Marines in Okinawa

Article 6 of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security states: “For the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East, the United States of America is granted the use by its land, air and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan.” The “land, air and naval forces” in the English version are defined in the Japanese version as none other than the “Army, Air Force and Navy.”

My claim is that the marine corps is an independent service of the navy and therefore should not be stationed in Okinawa.

A counter-argument to my claim is often provided as follows: Inside the Pentagon a service that is attached to the Department of the Army is “the Army” and a service that is attached to the Department of the Air Force is “the Air Force.” A service that is attached to the Department of the Navy is “the navy.” The marine corps is attached to the Department of the Navy, and so the marine corps is “the navy.”

According to this countervailing theory, however, a service that is attached to the Department of the Navy must be the one that is called by the same name as the department. The service that satisfies this condition is the original navy and not the marine corps. One cannot call the marine corps “the navy” simply because it is attached to the Department of the Navy.

The Department of the Navy and the navy must be sharply distinguished. The former is a nonmilitary, administrative body headed by a civilian secretary while the latter is a military organization headed by an admiral, the chief of naval operations. In order for it to be called the navy, the marine corps must be subsumed under the original navy, serving as its cog. But the reality is contrary to this.

Historically, the marines started as a hand-to-hand combat unit in the navy, whereby they were part of the navy, thus operating as a cog of it. But they have been promoted to an independent service on a par with the navy albeit the two services operate very closely when engaged in expeditionary operations.

The marine corps is attached to the Department of the Navy for historical reasons as well as for the sake of convenience. It is important to note, however, that it can be attached to the Department of the Army and subsumed under the army, because the marines’s field of activity is mostly on land, sharing many features with the army.

The bottom line: The marines are not the navy as stipulated in Article 6 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. It follows then that stationing the marines in Okinawa violates that provision in the treaty. Not only that, their tactical deployment to a third country outside the Far East also violates the security treaty.

YOSHIO SHIMOJI
NAHA, OKINAWA PREFECTURE

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.