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Thursday, January 28, 2010

From Asahi Shimbun January 28, 2010 海兵隊の抑止力を検証せよ

An important piece from Jan. 28 edition of Asahi Shimubun by Kyoji Yanagisawa, former head of the National Institute of Defense Studies, the research organization of the Ministry of Defense.

Yanagisawa argues:
- The core of the Futenma controversy should be how we look at the "deterrence" of the US Marines in Okinawa.
- The US Marine Corps troops are ready to be deployed anywhere in the world. By the nature of their mission, they are not to stay and defend a specific region. Therefore, there should not be any correct solution in military terms to the question of "Okinawa or Guam." The choice is a political choice based on how we design this "deterrence."
- Now the Cold War is over, and US, China, and Japan are economically dependent on each other. We need to reexamine the deterrence structure based on this current situation.
- The meaning of having US Marines as deterrent forces is that we are ready to deploy them when it is necessary. For example, if China attacks Taiwan, a full-scale war between the US and China may begin, and the "escalation ladder" that leads to use of nuclear weapons may come into force.
- Would this be a right choice for the US? Is Japan ready to say "yes" to such attacks from the bases within the country? The Government, politicians and bureaucrats alike, have not seriously examined these strategic questions.
- Some experts say it is better to leave things ambiguous. However, for the regions with the burden of bases, there is no tolerance for such ambiguity.
- Some say we need US Marines in Asia, but that is not a legitimate reason for having them in Okinawa.
- 50 years after the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty, Japan's strategic dependence on the US and the burden of bases remain to be the two biggest challenges of the alliance. The Futenma issue symbolic of these two issues.
- There should be no hurry in reaching a conclusion, and Japan should develop new strategies on the equal basis with the US. This will be beneficial to the long-term benefit of the alliance.
See also today's New York Times Editorial in which again equality is stressed in reaching a conclusion.
Japan and American Bases
I am sharing these articles NOT because I agree with everything they say, but because they convey the points that I find crucial, which probably both the conservatives and progressives can agree on - the importance of having objective, open and unambiguous discussions on the necessity to host US Marines in Japan with consideration to the unfair burdens that Okinawans have been forced to endure for the last 65 years.

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