Senior Research Fellow of U.S. think tank recommends that national security imperatives should trump what suits Okinawa

August 15, 2012 Hideki Matsudo of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

On the topic of the Futenma relocation issue, in his report published in June 2011, Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow for Northeast Asia in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, suggested that “Tokyo must make clear that Japanese national security and Asian peace and stability trump local Okinawan convenience.” He also urged the Japanese government to make it clear to Okinawa that Japanese government expenditure on Okinawan development is conditional on the Futenma Relocation Facility being implemented. It is quite possible that these recommendations may have influenced the Okinawa policy of the Japanese government.

In his report entitled, “Top 10 Reasons Why the U.S. Marines on Okinawa Are Essential to Peace and Security in the Pacific,” Klingner, a former senior analyst at the CIA, emphasized that the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa has an important role to play in the defense of Japan, including the Senkaku Islands.

With regard to the reaction to his report, in his interview with a reporter of the Ryukyu Shimpo, he said, “I got a number of compliments from Japanese officials. A lot from the Ministry of Defense and from legislators. I got a number of compliments, both from Tokyo and Washington, and U.S. presence in Okinawa. Some of the senior Japanese officials said that paper was very helpful, because it helped to explain to us things that they had been trying to explain to the Japanese and the Okinawan people. So, a couple of those people took copies of the paper, saying that they would use it to try to better articulate the reasons for, not only the Marines, but the forward-deployed presence.”

With regard to the fateful pledge by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to relocate the facilities currently at the Futenma base outside of the prefecture or abroad Klingner said that, “Such a shift, the DPJ proclaimed, would require reducing Japan’s overreliance on the United States, demanding an equal alliance with Washington, and initiating a closer embrace of Asian nations, particularly China,” and he added, “Beijing’s aggressive behavior [the Senkaku’s incident] and Pyongyang’s attacks on South Korea eventually led to a belated DPJ epiphany about geostrategic realities.” He suggested that the DPJ’s stance of demanding an “equal alliance” with Washington ended in failure.

He also revealed that a Japanese official had commented that, “The crisis over the Senkaku Islands has beefed up Japan’s relations with America again.”
In his report he suggested that, “The Obama Administration should increase its public diplomacy efforts to convince the Japanese and Okinawan legislators, media, and public that the U.S. military presence is critical to the security of Japan.” Furthermore, he recommended that the Japanese government speed up the relocation of Futenma Air Station within the prefecture, pointing out that “Seeking understanding and consensus has its limits.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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