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Symposium celebrating the first anniversary of the New Diplomacy Initiative and the publication of “Kyozo no Yokushiryoku” (“The Pretense of Deterrence”)

What to do with the Military Bases and the Right of Collective Self-Defense – the choice of Okinawa –

August 25, 2014, at Naha city

 

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A symposium to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the New Diplomacy Initiative (ND) and its first publication titled “Kyozo no Yokushiryoku,” (“The Pretense of Deterrence”), edited by ND and published by Junposha, was held at the Niraikanai hall of the Okinawa Kariyushi Urban Resort Naha in Naha City. The title of the symposium was “What to do with the Military Bases and the Right of Collective Self-Defense – the Choice of Okinawa.” Approximately 800 people participated in the symposium.

 

The authors of “Kyozo no Yokushiryoku” (“The Pretense of Deterrence”) include Kyoji Yanagisawa, a board member of ND and a former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary, Handa Shigeru, an editor of the Tokyo Shimbun, Yara Tomohiro, a former editor of the Okinawa Times, and Saruta Sayo, a director of ND. During their talk at the symposium, the authors discussed “deterrence,”—the suggestion the Japanese government has used to justify the presence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa—and the exercise of the right of collective self-defense.

 

Kyoji Yanagisawa, a board member of ND, stated that “The Japanese government has claimed that the U.S. Marine Corps needs to stay in Okinawa to make deterrence work. However, this logic about deterrence fails when they say the U.S. Marines can leave for five years by temporary relocating osprey aircraft currently deployed at Futenma Air Station to Saga Air port.”

 

When it comes to emergency situation in the Senkaku Islands, Mr. Yanagisawa believes that the “Japanese Coast Guard and Self-Defense Force are sufficient enough to prevent landings on the islands. If necessary, they may request the cooperation of the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The U.S. Marines, however, are not critical for the defense of the remote islands as they cannot be realistically reach with Marine resources.”

 

As for the Japanese government’s forcible relocation and construction of new military bases at Henoko Bay, Mr. Yanagisawa emphatically calls Japan to “ Say No from Okinawa and tell it to the U.S. government.” He further claimed that, with the premature approval to exercise the right of collective self-defense, the Japanese government failed to adequately discuss negative aspects, such as the possibility that Okinawa could be targeted by retaliatory missile attacks. He closed with the statement that, “While Prime Minister Abe wants to make the US-Japan relations an ‘alliance of blood,’ I will prevent it by any means.”

 

 

Mike Mochizuki, a board member of ND began by stating “There is no chance for the U.S. Marine Corps if an emergency situation happens in North Korea or Taiwan Strait.” He further states that “Neither the U.S. nor China find any merit in fighting over the Senkaku Islands, so there is no reason to claim that stationing the U.S. Marine Corps in Japan is for the defense of Senkaku Islands.”

 

 

Shigeru Handa, an editor of the Tokyo Shimbun, also took issue with the suggestion that deterrence is the primary motive for maintaining a continued presence of U.S. Marines in Okinawa. To support the fallacy of this argument, he highlighted the fact that, “in 2012, the U.S. decided to move operating units of the US Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam,” effectively removing their claimed deterrent effect.  Mr. Handa suggested that the “National security policy of the Japanese government lacks consistency. The U.S. Marine Corps – they are out of Okinawa most of the time – does not play any substantial role in ‘deterrence.’ It is clear that ‘deterrence’ is just fiction.”

 

Mr. Handa further stated that “Japanese government has prepared to go to war legally based on the agreement with the U.S. by introducing a series of legislation including the Law Concerning the Special Measures on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq, Act on Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Perilous Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan, last year’s Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, formulation of National Security Strategy, and this year’s cabinet decision on approval of the exercise of the right of collective self defense.”

 

Mr. Handa concluded with the statement that, “Japan has always yielded to the demands from the US. In order to fulfill what was promised to the U.S., they force each local government to follow them. Okinawa exemplifies this distorted ‘master-servant’ relationships between the U.S. and Japan, and the Japanese central and local governments.” He pleaded that the “People in Okinawa have made enough efforts towards solving this problem. Now is the turn for people in Tokyo like us do our part.”

 

 

Yara Tomohiro, a former editor of the Okinawa Times and a freelance journalist, suggested that “The U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa is now active in the field of humanitarian assistance and disaster response training in Asia-Pacific region and has built-up a security network with each country. However, Prime Minister Abe wastes such efforts by claiming that security environment is getting worse and provocatively visiting the Yasukuni Shrine.” Mr. Tomohiro claimed that “There is no necessity for stationing the US Marine Corps in Okinawa, or even in Japan. It is always politics which imposes military bases on Okinawa as ‘realistic’ solution by saying ‘deterrence’ or ‘geographical advantage’ of Okinawa.” Finally, he offered that “Deterrence is a lie (Yukushi, in Okinawan dialect).”

 

 

Saruta Sayo, the director of ND, began by stating that “Few people in the U.S. Congress and government know about Okinawa. Most of them in Washington D.C. are not interested in the situation of Okinawa and don’t know anything about it.” Ms. Sayo further stated that “Washington sees things in terms of military strategy. In order to make Okinawan people’s voices against relocation within the prefecture heard, we need a broader theory of national security.”