U.S. Military Bases and Okinawa

The Problem of U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa: How Does This Issue Affect Japan and Okinawa?

New Diplomacy Initiative Symposium

After giving his keynote speech, Torigoe Shuntaro, board member of ND, was joined by Nagamoto Tomohiro, chief editorial writer at the Okinawa Times, and Taira Choukei, Kariyushi Group CEO, to discuss various topics including the significance of the U.S. military base problems in Okinawa, awareness and understanding of these problems in Japan as a whole, and the gap in awareness between between people in Okinawa and Japan.


名護シンポpic1【Keynote speech: Torigoe Shuntaro, board member of ND】


We have only limited channels of information to know how the discussions on U.S.-Japan relations and U.S. military base issues are being carried out in the US.

Considering U.S. it is doubtful whether it is necessary for them to station  Marine Corps in Okinawa. Some American policymakers and military personnel also say that stationing U.S. marines in Futenma or Nago is not necessary. They have also considered the option of relocating the marines to Hawaii or Guam. However, the Japanese media does not report such views from the U.S.


As the past U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown, it is the U.S. Air Force that is firstly deployed to attack major military bases from the air. Then, aircraft carriers and warships follow. Finally, the Marine Corps appears when the ground battles start. The Marine Corps does not get involved in battles from the start. Furthermore, the Marine Corps can reach everywhere in Asia from Guam and Hawaii. Therefore it is not necessary for them to be stationed in Okinawa.Rather, it is the Japanese government that claims the Marine Corps is necessary to provide a “deterrence.” The problem cannot be solved unless the Japanese government changes its submissive attitude .


IMGP6190Outside Okinawa, over 50% of people support the construction of a new base at Henoko Bay. People who seriously consider Okinawan issues as their own problems are a minority, because Japan as a whole is becoming more conservative and right-wing. The Abe administration uses the slogan “breaking away from the post-war regime,” a regime which is symbolized by the current Japanese constitution, and is trying to remove the ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense. I am alarmed by Abe’s ideology. Given the situation in Japan, the victory of the Nago mayor in the last election was moving and historic. We must not despair. Each of us has to keep working to solve the problems that concern us.


【Nagamoto Tomohiro (chief editorial writer at the Okinawa Times)】

There is a wide gap between “Okinawan” and “Japanese” media. Within the turmoil over the relocation of the base to Henoko, we are seeing a new current among conservative groups in Okinawa. They are starting to oppose the Japanese government’s policy. The result of the Nago mayoral election showed us a ray of hope. It is our challenge as Okinawan people to consider what must be done to turn this hope into a solution to this problem.



140305②【Taira Choukei (Kariyushi Group CEO)】

Kariyushi Group is a sightseeing business, and our business can’t exist without peace. Since the 1990s, the number of tourists visiting Okinawa has been increasing and we have seen the growth of the New Metropolitan Center in Naha and of Chatan-cho, which were previously occupied by the U.S. military but have now been returned to Okinawa. Our economic system has changed. We can say that we don’t need military bases to support the economy. We can be confident in our economy.