Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

Okinawa’s U.S. military bases

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Linda Hoaglund has a post on ANPO blog on the subject of U.S. president Obama’s latest visit to Japan and the Okinawan response to U.S. military bases in the prefecture. Below is an except:

During my stay in Okinawa,I realized just how little we Americans know of the anger that Okinawans feel about the U.S. military presence. Before I started making this film, I never realized that some 30 sprawling U.S. bases have covered more than 20% of the land area of this small island since the end of World War II.

As the rally began, mayors and members of parliament representing Okinawa spoke in open anger about the noise pollution caused by the incessant training of F-16 fighter jets, C-130 transport planes and Chinook helicopters, directly over the homes and streets of local towns, disturbing their daily lives and even their sleep. They reminded those assembled of the interminable rapes, murders and petty crimes, committed by American soldiers over the decades, which have largely been exempt from prosecution under the Status of Forces Agreement.


US military bases in Japan: Okinawan open letter to president Obama

November 19, 2009 1 comment

The Study Group on Okinawan External Affairs has published an open letter regarding the burden and future of US military bases on the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa.

The English and Japanese versions of this letter can also be found on Japan Focus and the Tokyo Progressive. These sites link to a short video clip on the issue by Linda Hoaglund; the video is also provided here.

November 9, 2009
President Barack Hussein Obama,

We are residents of Okinawa and we would like to express our views regarding the United States Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the current agreement to build a new base in Nago City, Okinawa.

We urge you to withdraw all of USMC from Okinawa. The people of Okinawa have been and will continue to be firmly opposed to the current US plan to relocate the dangerous Futenma Air Station to another location within Okinawa. We demand that the Futenma Air Station be shut down and returned unconditionally. The USMC has been stationed in Okinawa since the mid 1950s. The only real solution to the Futenma problem is a total withdrawal of the USMC from Okinawa.

Here we respectfully state the reasons for our demand. First, the current agreement between the US and Japanese governments regarding the construction of a new USMC base in Nago City was reached without consultation with the government or the people of Okinawa in 2005 and 2006. As many recent election results and public opinion polls show, Okinawa’s people have been calling for relocating Futenma out of Okinawa.

Second, the sea area of the new base, located off shore of USMC Camp Schwab in Nago City, is a habitat for various endangered species, including dugong, the Asian manatee. It is unacceptable to destroy the highly valuable ocean environment with the construction of a military base.

Third, the US and Japanese governments agreed to close the USMC Futenma Base and return its land to Okinawa in 1996, with the condition that a replacement facility be constructed in Okinawa. However, the new facility has not yet been built. The fourteen years since have proven that it is simply not possible to squeeze a new military base in Okinawa, which has long suffered an overburden of US military presence.

Finally, when the closure of Futenma Air Station was first discussed, it was assumed that the ground combat element and logistic combat element would remain in Okinawa. However, since there is virtually no possibility of building a new air station in Okinawa, the USMC should relocate both the ground combat element and aviation combat element out of Okinawa. Indeed, it would be more logical and beneficial for the USMC if all the elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force were relocated together. Our proposal of a total withdrawal of USMC from Okinawa would actually fit the necessity of the MAGTF’s integration of elements most effectively. By withdrawing from Okinawa, the USMC could avoid the unreasonable arrangement of keeping some troops in Okinawa and stationing others in Guam or Hawaii. It would be more desirable for the USMC, while at the same time preserving the highly valuable ocean environment and satisfying the demands of the people of Okinawa.

In conclusion, we wish to urge the United States and Japanese governments to begin the process of planning for a total withdrawal of the USMC from Okinawa. Now is the time to act for “CHANGE” to create a better relationship between Japan and the United States. Both countries would benefit from a break with the status quo and a fresh perspective on the Futenma issue.

Sincerely yours,

Seigen Miyasato
Study Group on Okinawa External Affairs

Hirayuki Agarie, Professor Emeritus, University of the Ryukyus
Akira Arakawa, Journalist
Moriteru Arasaki, Professor Emeritus, Okinawa University
Masaie Ishihara, Professor, Okinawa International University
Tatsuhiro Oshiro, Novelist
Masaaki Gabe, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Manabu Sato, Professor, Okinawa International University
Kunitoshi Sakurai, President, Okinawa University
Jun Shimabukuro, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Suzuyo Takazato, Former Vice-speaker, Naha City Assembly
Tetsumi Takara, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Hiroyuki Teruya, Professor, Okinawa International University
Hiroshi Nakachi, Professor, Okinawa University
Nozato Yo, Journalist

Eiichi Hoshino, Professor, University of the Ryukyus
Kakeshi  Miki, Journalist
Akiya Miyazato, Journalist
Akiko Yui, Journalist

(First published at

Asia’s Threesome: Roundup of Analysis

BOOK REVIEW : Asia’s awesome threesome – Rivals by Bill Emmott. Any friendship between China, India, and Japan is a facade, argues Bill Emmott in his new book on the inter-state rivalry and its consequences for the world. Asia’s “Big Three” are prone to suspicions and jealousies due to their highly competitive and strategic environment and this has led to a complex “new Asian drama”. Emmott’s yen for futurology yields interesting speculations but his premise of a is illogical and bypasses the impact of Russo-American tensions. (Sreeram Chaulia, Asia Times)

India’s perch ruffles China’s feathers. After 43 years, India has re-opened an airfield, the highest-altitude air base in the world, that overlooks China’s Xinjiang province and the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan. Delhi says the move is in response to Chinese incursions, and should be seen as a clear sign that it is fed up with being bullied on the Sino-Indian border. (Sudha Ramachandran, Asia Times)

Japan Seeks to Outbid China in Quest for African Support. Two reports follow on the vast, and vastly expensive, Tokyo International Conference on African Development designed to showcase Japan’s aid to Africa. The conference, held in Yokohama with the presence of 51 of 53 African nations, was attended by 40 Presidents of African nations. The first report by Ramesh Jaura concentrates on the proposed Japanese aid package, as Japan proposes to double both trade and investment in Africa within five years. The second report by the Yomiuri Shimbun’s Kawakami Osamu highlights the real stakes for Japan: the effort to outbid China whose burgeoning trade, investment and presence in Africa is a cause of Japanese, and the continued pursuit of the chimera of a Japanese UN security council seat. Neither report mentions either oil and energy or military strategic issues. (Ramesh Jaura and Kawakami Osamu, Japan Focus)

China’s Thirst for Oil. China’s need for energy is growing faster than any other country’s. Record economic growth results in demand that outstrips domestic supply, leading Beijing to look outward to ensure growth and stability. Concerns about the global oil market have led state firms to buy stakes around the world, often in countries shunned by Western firms. The investments are an important factor in Beijing’s foreign policy. They also drive concerns that China’s actions fuel or exacerbate conflict in the developing world and cause tensions with other major oil-importing countries as it locks up energy resources. (International Crisis Group)

Roundup of Analysis: Stability in the Middle East, and the Nanjing Massacre

December 18, 2007 Leave a comment

Bush has a little secret on Iran. A senior Iranian military defector is believed to have played a key part in convincing the US intelligence community to radically change its mind on Iran’s nuclear program. And despite White House obfuscation, it appears President George W Bush knew all about the reversal at the beginning this year. (Gareth Porter, Asia Times)

Manama’s mixed messages. While it appears that a relative thaw has occurred in US-Iran relations, the future of Gulf region strategic alignments is uncertain. (Dina Ezzat, Al-Ahram)

“Follow Us Not Them” – The Ramallah Model: Washington’s Palestinian Failure. George Bush’s “vision” of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on the supremacy of the “Ramallah model” over the “Gaza model.” U.S. policy intends that the advantages championed by Ramallah in negotiations with Israel and the economic revival enabled by international assistance will “strengthen Abu Mazen” and undermine the Palestininian majority for Hamas. In this contest, however, Hamas, from its base in Gaza, retains significant advantages. (Geoffrey Aronson, Conflicts Forum)

Look Back in Anger. Filming the Nanjing Massacre. A crop of new movies released to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre is set to again dredge up the controversy about one of the 20th Century’s most notorious events. How will Japan react? (David McNeill, Japan Focus)

Political Progress in Iraq During the Surge. This report is based on conversations in July 2007 with a large number of Iraqi political leaders and senior government officials, members of Parliament from the major parliamentary groups, and a wide range of Iraqi citizens from Baghdad and the provinces. (Rend Al-Rahim Francke, United States Institute of Peace)

Roundup of Analysis: Independence, Nuclear Japan, New Australia, Iran, and U.S.-China Relations

December 11, 2007 Leave a comment

Iran prepares to further its US ‘interests’. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is taking domestic heat over his participation in a regional Arab conference and his declarations of “victory” over the United States following its positive assessment of Tehran’s nuclear program. All the same, a window has now opened to explore what some influential Iranians call the “shared interests” between the US and Iran. (Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, Asia Times)

China’s Decision to Deny U.S. Ships from Port of Hong Kong. Diplomatic friction between the United States and the People’s Republic of China has grown more palpable during the past week. A series of high profile events involving the port of Hong Kong have unfolded on the international stage, leaving observers, political analysts and military planners contemplating the significance of these incidents. (Richard Komaiko, Power and Interest News Report)

Japan as a Plutonium Superpower. For 60 years the world has faced no greater threat than nuclear weapons. Japan, as a nuclear victim country, with “three non-nuclear principles” (non-production, non-possession, and non-introduction of nuclear weapons into Japan) and its “Peace Constitution,” had unique credentials to play a positive role in helping the world find a solution, yet its record has been consistently pro-nuclear, that is to say, pro-nuclear energy, pro-the nuclear cycle, and, pro-nuclear weapons. This paper elaborates on Japan’s aspiration to become a nuclear state, arguing that attention should be paid to Rokkasho, Tsuruga, and Hamaoka, the places at the heart of Japan’s present and future nuclear plans, no less than to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose names represent the horror of its nuclear past. (Gavan McCormack, Japan Focus)

Power Shift? Australia and the Asia Pacific. The election of Kevin Rudd as Australian Prime Minister in a Labor Party sweep has led many to anticipate a major shift in Australia’s international relations and environmental policies, and possible realignments in Asia. We offer four brief assessments of the significance of the election for the region at a time when long-entrenched governments in England, Poland, and many parts of Latin America point to possible sea changes in international affairs. (The Asahi Shinbun, Ramesh Thakur & Richard Tanter, Japan Focus)

Kosovo Countdown: A Blueprint for Transition. Kosovo’s transition to the status of conditional, or supervised, independence has been greatly complicated by Russia’s firm support of Serbia’s refusal to accept that it has lost its one-time province. Recognition of conditional independence has broad international, and certainly European Union (EU) and American, support. Under threat of Moscow’s veto, the Security Council will not revoke its Resolution 1244 of 1999 that acknowledged Serbian sovereignty while setting up the UN Mission (UNMIK) to prepare Kosovo for self-government pending a political settlement on its future status. Nor will the Council be allowed to approve the plan for a conditionally independent Kosovo devised by the Secretary-General’s special representative, Martti Ahtisaari, earlier this year and authorise the EU-led missions meant to implement that plan. (International Crisis Group)

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Propaganda, nuclear proliferation, and sudden evictions

September 26, 2007 Leave a comment

Perceptions of identity: Islamist identity and neoconservatism. We are at a point of conflict and growing instability in the Middle East where the West’s projection of its perception of Islamist identity is no longer recognizable to Islamists themselves; and the Islamist perception of American motivation for actions has little if any resonance with ordinary Americans. Both sides are ideologically committed to the correctness of their perception of the other’s identity. (Conflict Forum)

The India-US Nuclear Deal at a Crossroads. As the US-India-Japan-Australia-Singapore joint military exercise styled Operation Malabar was conducted in early September, reverberations were felt not only in China, but also in India. The US-India nuclear agreement, driving a nail deep into the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, has produced sharp debate within Indian politics, including in the ruling coalition. (Praful Bidwai, Japan Focus)

Militarizing Japan: Patriotism, Profit, and Children’s Print Media, 1894-1925. The January 1922 issue of Shonen kurabu (Boy’s Club) carried the first episode of an exciting new “hot-blooded novel” (nekketsu shosetsu) drawn from the fertile imagination of noted children’s writer Miyazaki Ichiu. For fourteen consecutive issues Miyazaki enthralled Japanese children with depictions of Japanese valour and the Yamato spirit (Yamato damashii) locked in a titanic struggle against a duplicitous and rapacious foreign enemy. The fate of the navy and of the nation itself hung in the balance. The Imperial navy fought valiantly against a technologically superior foe but was ultimately destroyed. Then, in Japan’s darkest hour, the nation was saved by a group of true patriots, led by a child warrior commanding a powerful new technology. All Japan wept. This was the Future War Between Japan and America, “the greatest naval battle in history.” (Owen Griffiths, Japan Focus)

The war on Gaza’s children. An entire generation of Palestinians in Gaza is growing up stunted: physically and nutritionally stunted because they are not getting enough to eat; emotionally stunted because of the pressures of living in a virtual prison and facing the constant threat of destruction and displacement; intellectually and academically stunted because they cannot concentrate — or, even if they can, because they are trying to study and learn in circumstances that no child should have to endure. Even before Israel this week declared Gaza “hostile territory” — apparently in preparation for cutting off the last remaining supplies of fuel and electricity to 1.5 million men, women and children — the situation was dire. (Saree Makdisi , LA Times)

House Demolitions. On June 10th 1967, the Israeli government demolished the Moroccan Quarter in the Old City of East Jerusalem to make easier public access to the Western Wall. After the Israeli army called on the inhabitants of the quarter to vacate their homes only a couple of hours before the demolitions took place, a call which was not heard by everybody in the quarter, 135 houses were demolished along with two mosques and other sites. 650 inhabitants were left homeless and several others dead under the rubble of their homes. This demolition was not the first of its kind in the Occupied Palestinian Territories but definitely the starting point to a lifetime struggle with illegal house demolitions by the Israel Occupying forces. (Miftah)

Beyond the rhetoric. “We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war.” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s remarks about Iran, later softened, made ahead of a visit to Moscow on Monday, signalled a qualitative shift not only in the French but the European position towards Iran. They cannot be dismissed as empty rhetoric or grandstanding. Kouchner, after all, is in a better position than most to know what is happening behind the scenes in international politics from Iran to Gaza. He has a reputation as an astute reader of indicators, as a politician sensitive to nuance. (Mustafa El-Labbad, Al-Ahram)

Arms, The Big Deal. Encouraged by New Delhi, a host of Indian companies are currently negotiating with European arms giants to acquire strategic stakes, get into manufacturing and bid for deals. It is reliably learnt that global giants from Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden, France, Britain, Poland, Romania and Russia are keen to offload stakes to Indian heavy engineering companies. Highly placed sources told TEHELKA that a number of high-level delegations from European firms have visited Indian companies to check out the latter’s interest level. (Shantanu Guha Ray, Tehelka)

Roundup of Analysis and Investigative Articles: Of new prime ministers, the Middle East, on learning, and fuel economy

September 25, 2007 Leave a comment

Intelligence Brief: Japan’s New Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda. Fukuda is less of a nationalist than Abe, which means that there will be little progress toward repealing Article Nine of the pacifist constitution and school textbooks will probably cease to be an area of focus for the government. This will please China and the Korean states. Still, the strategic bonds that Abe forged with Australia and India, in tandem with the United States, appear robust. (Power and Interest News Report)

Two interviews with Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi. Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, former C-in-C of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Corps and current advisor for military affairs to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has recently given two interviews: West Has Launched a “Media War“ and Iran has become an extra-regional power. (Vineyard of the Saker)

The Victor? Of all the unintended consequences of the Iraq war, Iran’s strategic victory is the most far-reaching. In establishing the border between the Ottoman Empire and the Persian Empire in 1639, the Treaty of Qasr-i-Shirin demarcated the boundary between Sunni-ruled lands and Shiite-ruled lands. For eight years of brutal warfare in the 1980s, Iran tried to breach that line but could not. (At the time, the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein precisely because it feared the strategic consequences of an Iraq dominated by Iran’s allies.) The 2003 US invasion of Iraq accomplished what Khomeini’s army could not. (Peter W. Galbraith, The New York Review of Books)

How Observation Beats the School of Hard Knocks. Few questions are more fundamental than that of how we learn. Indeed, this question has been central to psychological inquiry from the time of the first experimental psychology labs in the late 1800s. Ever since, a primary goal of psychology research has been to describe how we acquire and retain the information necessary for survival. (Kevin Ochsner, Scientific America)

A Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Products: Environmental Impact Assessment of Biofuels. In connection with the worsening scarcity of fossil fuels and climate change the idea of using renewable energy is attracting interest both in the Swiss public eye and in industry. Fuels made from biomass – so-called biofuels – are currently the most important form of renewable energy in road transportation and could at least over the short to medium term take on a role in reducing greenhouse gases and our dependency on fossil fuels. Although biofuels from renewable resources exist, a wider range of environmental impacts may result from their cultivation and processing than those from fossil fuels. (The Oil Drum)

USAID in Bolivia and Venezuela: The Silent Subversion. The United States government has almost perfected a method of intervention that is able to penetrate and infiltrate all sectors of civil society in a country which it deems to be of economic and strategic interest. In the case of Venezuela, this strategy began to take form in 2002, with the increase in financing of sectors of the opposition via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the opening of an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) of USAID in Caracas. (Eva Golinger, Axis of Logic)

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