Understanding the Issue of U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa Asie.Visions, No. 29, June 2010
The failure of Prime Minister Hatoyama to transfer the dangerous U.S. military base of Futenma out of Okinawa hastened his resignation, announced on June 2nd.
The issue of U.S. bases in Okinawa is indeed particularly complex because it combines different logics and sometimes contradictory dynamics at three levels of governance. Internationally, the presence of American forces on its soil is a quid pro quo for US protection of Japan in the case of an attack. The bases are also key focal points of Washington's regional and global military presence. At the local level, the U.S. military presence has shaped the history, the territory, as well as the economic, social and cultural profile of Okinawa over the last sixty years. It also causes significant disturbances to local communities.
The management of these issues by the central government in Tokyo raises the question of its relationships with geographical and cultural fringe regions like Okinawa.