Joseph Nye: “the fixed bases on Okinawa become increasingly vulnerable”

Joseph Nye:

Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Nye

September 1, 2014 Ryota Shimabukuro of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

Former US Assistant Secretary of Defense Joseph Nye suggested in his article posted to the Huffington Post on August 7 that “many Japanese still resent the lack of symmetry in the alliance obligations. Others chafe at the burden of U.S. bases, particularly on the island of Okinawa.” He pointed out, “As China invests in advanced ballistic missiles, the fixed bases on Okinawa become increasingly vulnerable.” Joseph Nye is one of the most influential foreign policy thinkers on Japan policy in the U.S. Democratic Party.

The governments of Japan and the United States have asserted Okinawa’s strategic location as a reason to concentrate US forces on the islands. However, Nye suggests that so-called geographical advantage of Okinawa is lost.
The former US Assistant Secretary of Defense emphasized, “The U.S. and Japan must rethink the structure of their alliance.” However, referring to the future alliance between Japan and the United States, Nye said, “Abe’s modest step toward collective self-defense is a step in the right direction.” He pointed out, referring to the US forces in Japan, “A longer-term goal should thus be for the U.S. gradually to transfer its bases to Japanese control, leaving American forces to rotate among them.” At the same time, he said that the process must be handled carefully.

He stressed, “To avoid the perception that the U.S. decided to turn the bases over to Japan just when their military benefits were diminishing, and to ensure that the move represented America’s recommitment to the alliance, a joint commission would have to be established to manage the transfer.”

Nye supported the United States Government’s policy to move the U.S. Marine Corps to Australia in his article posted in the opinion pages of The New York Times web site on November 21, 2011. He pointed out “The current official plan to move the Marines inside Okinawa is unlikely to be acceptable to the Okinawa people.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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