Infographic showing the distribution of US military bases across Okinawa (from Japan Focus).

I would like to recommend an interesting article written by Yonamine Michiyo over at Japan Focus. Originally appearing in the February addition of Sekai, it has been translated by Rumi Sakamoto and Matthew Allen (Rumi also lectures at the University of Auckland and I believe Matthew used to). Among other things it provides a thorough discussion of how the US fiscal crisis might have an impact upon the Okinawa issue. It also gathers in one place the opinion of a number of notable US academics who have doubts about the utility of the Futenma relocation agreement in particular. Yonamine choice of US academics to survey is well considered – all of them are experienced analysts and they are all generally supportive of the US-Japan alliance and believe in its overall utility. This allows Yonamine to avoid criticism of selection bias and adds to her argument.

The article also details the often ignored US domestic situation and how it could also undermine the Futenma relocation plan. US doubts about the  feasibility and capacity of Guam to take the Marines relocated out of Futenma are raised – these are important to acknowledge  given that the relocation of forces to Guam from Futenma is an essential part of the overall relocation plan, and sit alongside the plan to move some of the functions of Futenma to Henoko. Yonamine therefore boldly rejects the idea that the issues surrounding Futenma are solely located in Okinawa and Okinawan resistance.

Yonamine overall provides a calm and considered piece which provides insights into some of the reasons why Futenma is more than an emotional issue and is not motivated out of simple “anti-Americanism” on the part of Okinawans, as it appears that some believe. Whether you agree with the analysis or not, it is important that more Japanese voices make it into English language analyses of security issues to provide a more complete picture of the range of thinking on security issues, especially among the younger generation of thinkers. The general impression in much of the media is of Japanese voices on security coming only from hopelessly sycophantic politicians or irrationally defiant Okinawans. Or Hatoyama Yukio.  Admittedly, sometimes the Japanese media itself does not help in assuaging people of this impression. Yonamine was posted to Washington as a correspondent for the Ryukyu Shimpo and from the article it appears that she certainly familiarized herself with US domestic politics related to defense during the time.

Article is here.

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Corey Wallace joined Japan Security Watch in 2011. He writes on Japan security-related topics, focusing on issues and stories that may not find their way into the English language media. He also hosts the blog Sigma1 where he writes on Japanese domestic politics and broader issues in international relations. Prior to taking up a PhD Corey was a participant on the JET program (2004-2007) and on returning to New Zealand he worked at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology from 2007-2010 as a policy adviser. Corey lectures two courses at the University of Auckland. One is on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific, which contains a significant focus on East Asia security issues. The other is a course on China's international relations. His primary academic interests before his current Japan focus were science and technology politics/policy, issues of ethnic identity, and Chinese modern history and politics. He carries over his interest in issues of identity and history into his PhD where he is looking at generationally situated concepts of national identity and their impact on foreign policy ideas in Japan.
Corey Wallace has 256 post(s) on Japan Security Watch