US Ambassador caught in the “Eye of the Japanese Political Storm” in Okinawa

US Ambassador caught in the “Eye of the Japanese Political Storm” in Okinawa 

Michiyo Tanabe and Helmet Joachim Schmidt 

Modern Tokyo Times


The American ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, entered the “eye of the Japanese political storm” in Okinawa. Indeed, while great emphasis is being put on America, it is clear that the finger should equally be pointed at political elites in Tokyo. After all, the rich culture of Okinawa is being overtly burdened by outside forces that appear to undervalue the people of this part of Japan.

America may be the brunt of many in Okinawa and in international media outlets. However, the real culprits are successive Japanese government that refuse to openly listen to the people of Okinawa. If Japan deems it necessary to have American bases throughout the nation then a greater share of the burden must be held by other parts of this country. It is abundantly clear that the burden being put on Okinawa is unjustifiably high and if elites in Tokyo had been more open-minded about this then today the issue wouldn’t be so problematic.

This is all happening while China continues to encroach on the area by adopting estranged policies aimed at upping the ante. Despite this encroachment, it is clear that the majority of people in Okinawa are disillusioned by the enormous burden being put on this unique and distinctive part of Japan in relation to American bases.

Lee Jay Walker at Modern Tokyo Times says: “It is abundantly clear that Okinawa is very important when it applies to geopolitics but Japan should have enforced a more equal distribution of military bases being located throughout the nation. Also, the richness of wildlife and the bountiful opportunities for tourism in Okinawa – alongside preserving Okinawan culture and identity – should equally have been put at the top of the agenda. However, it appears that elites in Tokyo believe that they can enforce a diktat on the people of Okinawa based on being so remote from the vestiges of power in the capital.”

Apparently, several media outlets in Okinawa prepared editorials to show their discontent towards the relocation of an American military base. According to the English and Japanese versions of The Ryukyu Shimpo it was stated: “The people of Okinawa have a desire to share the universal values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights with Americans…Does the U.S. government respect democracy in Okinawa?”

However, this should be addressed first at the national government of Japan because clearly the elites have it in their power to adopt a more sincere policy in relation to American bases. The problem appears to be the almost lack of sincerity towards the people of Okinawa because a more equal distribution of bases throughout all of Japan would have placated the majority a long time ago. In other words, while discontent exists in Okinawa it is abundantly clear that this should be directed towards the government of Japan.

American soldiers arrived quickly on the scene in relation to the natural disasters of the Kobe earthquake and the brutal tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in recent times.  Therefore, American troops are on the frontline in protecting Japan based on military agreements with the Japanese government – and likewise, American troops also risk their lives during terrible natural disasters that hit Japan from time to time. Given this reality, then it is time for the government of Japan to adopt measures that enable greater understanding between the people of this nation and the armed forces of America. If Japan one day decides to protect itself solely, then this is a different issue. Until this day then it is time to adopt sensitive policies towards the people of Okinawa and provide genuine alternatives in order to share the enormous burden being put on this part of Japan.

Lee Jay Walker gave guidance to both writers


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