Japan Peace Conference 2005
Researcher of International Issues
Japan Peace Committee
1. Plan to Realign US Military Bases Faces Local Residents' Anger
At the end of October this year, the Japanese and U.S. foreign and defense ministers met in Washington D.C. (Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee), and agreed on the plan to realign U.S. military bases in Japan. Since its announcement, the realignment plan has met with intense resistance of local residents and governments of Kanagawa and Okinawa prefectures, where the concentration of the bases is highest in Japan, and of many other municipalities concerned. Reportedly all the 55 municipalities of 12 prefectures, which are to be affected by the realignment, have voiced their opposition. This is almost for the first time in Japan that criticism and outrage toward U.S. military bases growing nationwide.
People are so angry because both governments are ignoring their desperate call for the reduction and withdrawal of U.S. military bases, high-handedly imposing a plan to make those bases central hub bases with a view to strengthening the Bush administrationﾕs capabilities to wage war of aggression in any place on the globe.
The plan, if implemented, will make it even more difficult for Japan to become a "peaceful nation" promised by Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. We are facing with a grave danger of Japan turning into a major military stepping-stone in the U.S. strategy of dominating the world by force. The attempt to strengthen the Japan-U.S. military alliance in that direction is unacceptable, and I condemn it in the strongest term.
The essence of Koizumi cabinetﾕs attitude in dealing with the transformation is symbolized in its unjust approach where people's human rights and right to peace are utterly denied. This approach is characteristic in two ways.
First, the Japanese government negotiated the issue with the U.S. government behind the door, without disclosing any content of the talks to the people. It totally accepted the U.S. demands on the further build-up of the U.S. bases in Japan, and is now trying to push ahead with the implementation of the realignment plan, only to help U.S. carry out its war policy.
Second, the Japanese government squarely ignored the opinion of local residents and municipalities concerned. Early October last year, Prime Minister Koizumi delivered a speech in a meeting in Tokyo, and said that regarding the military realignment issue, the Japanese government would first consult with the municipalities hosting U.S. bases, and based on their consent, it would negotiate with the U.S. His words have turned out to be an empty promise. It is all too natural that the municipalities concerned are protesting the government in chorus for its deceitful way.
2. Aims of U.S. Military Realignment
One may wonder why the two governments were so pressed to decide on the plan in the behind-the-door negotiations in Washington, in disregard of the wishes of local residents, who have been suffering from the damage caused by U.S. military bases.
The reason for this is that they want to strengthen the military posture of U.S. forces in Japan to enable the U.S. to wage unlawful war in violation of U.N. Charter, like the one on Iraq, anywhere in the world, and that they know the Japanese people will not support military realignment for such a purpose.
There are two important goals the U.S. seeks to achieve with the military realignment. The first is to improve its global first strike capabilities. The second is to ensure the military commitment of Japan and of other U.S. client states to its war.
First strike capabilities
Letﾕs take a look at the first goal of the U.S. military realignment: to increase U.S. preemptive attack capabilities. In May this year, a Pentagon's document on the military transformation came to light. It says the realignment aims to enable U.S. military forces to operate across borders with an ability to project power on a global basis without "seams." And it underlines the importance of enhancing "rapidly deployable capabilities." In other words, the objective of realignment is to make U.S. military forces more efficient and to strengthen their posture for carrying out military attacks, so that the U.S. can project its armed forces in any part of the world to wage unilateral wars of aggression and of first strike. Through military realignment, the U.S. government wants to have a posture that will enable itself to unilaterally wage war anywhere in the world. At the same time, it aims to carry out militarily threats to achieve results it wants, with the overwhelming military power being deployed worldwide. The strategy is to carry out "threat of force" and "use of force", the very acts explicitly prohibited by the U.N. Charter.
The conclusion of the last October's Japan-U.S. talks attended by the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries is very clear on this point. The so-called "interim report," an outcome document of the talks states, "U.S. strike capabilities and the nuclear deterrence provided by the U.S. remain an essential complement to Japan's defense capabilities...(and) contribute to peace and security in the region."
U.S. "strike capabilities" deployed in Japan are raid forces represented by the aircraft carrier strike group homeported in Yokosuka Naval Base here in Kanagawa Prefecture. It was announced that the conventional aircraft carrier presently deployed would be replaced with a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, in defiance of strong local opposition. The U.S. Marine Corps, the vanguard of the raid forces, will remain in Okinawa Prefecture and in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, with a minor reduction in command personnel. A major issue now is the plan to construct a new base and to relocate U.S. bases within Okinawa and elsewhere for their perpetual presence. The Aero-Space Expeditionary Forces of the U.S. Air Force are based in 3 major air bases in Japan, including Yokota Air Base, which sits at the heart of Tokyo, the capital city of the country. The Expeditionary Forces will maintain their aggressive strike forces at key locations all over Japan, from north to south. Further, the U.S Army will strengthen the function of Camp Zama here in Kanagawa. It has announced the relocation of its front-line command's central mechanism to Zama from the U.S. mainland. The command is responsible for controlling the troops with enhanced expeditious war-fighting capabilities. Local governments and residents in Sagamihara City, Zama City, and other municipalities in the surrounding area of Camp Zama, who have always opposed such move, are unanimously and strongly protesting the plan.
In Okinawa, in pursuit of keeping and enhancing Marine Corps' strike capabilities there, the U.S. sought to build a new base by reclaiming the shore of Henoko, Nago City. This was going to be a replacement for the agreed-to-be-withdrawn Futenma Air Base, which sits in the middle of a densely populated area in the island prefecture. When the plan was frustrated by staunch resistance of the locals, the U.S. came up with another proposal: to construct a base in the sea off the U.S. Marines Camp Schwab in Nago City, which is just around the corner of Henoko shore. The new plan was made with full knowledge of consequent damage it would cause on the population, including serious noise pollution. The proposal has only added fuel to people's anger, and even pro-base Okinawa Prefectural Governor Inamine, a Liberal Democratic Party member, has expressed his opposition.
In this context I should like to note that under the cover of "nuclear deterrence," a deception that makes U.S. nuclear preemptive capabilities appear like a defense force for Japan, the U.S. and Japanese governments continue to preserve the secret agreement on the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons and capability in U.S. military bases in Japan. We even see a sign that they are enhancing such readiness recently. The conclusion of the Japanese and U.S. governments' talks on the military realignment last October openly expresses Japan's continuous reliance on U.S. "nuclear deterrence." The government of the very country that committed a grave crime against humanity by dropping the world's first nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is now beefing up its military bases in Japan, the very victim country of its nuclear attack, to make them ready for carrying out nuclear first strike.
Posture for Japan waging wars with the U.S.
Let us turn to what is happening regarding the second goal of the U.S. military realignment: to ensure that military forces of Japan and other U.S. client states to be positioned to fight in the battlefield neck and neck with the U.S. military forces.
One of the issues that drew considerable attention in the agreement of the recent Japan-U.S. defense and foreign ministers' talks was that it gave direction toward establishing a posture for joint military operation by Japan and the U.S.
Prof. MAEDA Tetsuo at Tokyo International University analyzes that a new feature was given to the military cooperation by Japan and the U.S., that is, formation of a "Japan-U.S. coalition troops." He went on to say that the agreement put forward a fundamental direction for future "military activities abroad" by the Japanese military (Okinawa Times, Oct.31, 2005). Indeed, the proposed U.S. military realignment plan aims to give shape to a posture that will enable the Japanese Self Defense Forces to wage wars with U.S. in any place on the globe, by repealing the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. It is no incidental that the direction toward forming a Japan-U.S. coalition troops was made public only a few days after the Liberal Democratic Party published its draft of a "new Japanese Constitution," which includes the deletion of Article 9.
These unfolding events indicate that proposals made in the "Armitage Report" issued by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, the National Defense University in Washington D.C. on the eve of the inauguration of the Bush Administration, are now in the stage of its implementation. The Armitage report encouraged diligent implementation of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation and reinforcement of a force structure of military forces of Japan and the U.S. It recommended that the Japan-U.S. alliance should become like the one between the U.S. and U.K, saying, "It is time for burden-sharing to evolve into power-sharing."
However, present conflicts in the world, especially the realities of Iraq war and of the subsequent occupation of the country, are quite telling what kind of danger awaits Japan if it proceeds to establish a posture for military cooperation with the U.S., with Japanﾕs Self Defense Forces taking part in the U.S. global war strategy. Consequences are too grave and more alarming than ever for the life of people of the world, including Japanese young people whose lives could be mercilessly wasted in such a war. I want to raise alert on this point.
A Desert Strom veteran and former U.S. Army tank battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ralf W. Zimmermann recently posted on a military-related website his comments on the Pentagonﾕs pathetic stopgap measures against the decreasing number of U.S. Army recruits. He wrote that the U.S. government was trying to attract young people to the army by offering an enormous amount of financial incentives and a higher death benefit, even at the cost of veterans' welfare benefits, with little results. The recruitment for the 2005 fiscal year, when the list was closed at the end of September, fell nearly 10% short of the targeted goal. While pointing to the inevitable contradiction between the military's challenge to maintain its war readiness and the reality of the lack of recruits, Zimmermann said that in getting out of this predicament, many politicians embrace the notion of a modern-day version of hiring "foreign mercenaries", as the ancient Romans Empire did.
This is the reason why the U.S. is rushing to give shape to the framework, in which the Japanese Self Defense Forces could fight war with it, and why the two governments negotiated the military realignment behind the curtain. They are now trying to impose on the people what they had agreed, just like the landlords did in the feudal era.
To this end, the agreement between the Japanese and U.S. defense and foreign ministers on the military realignment straightforwardly set forth shared use of military bases by U.S. forces and Japanese Self-Defense Forces, enhanced coordination and improved interoperability between headquarters of both forces for flexible and responsive command and control, and expanded opportunities for bilateral training and exercises. The two governments make it clear that these proposals are designed to strengthen capabilities of the U.S. forces and Japan's SDF.
3. Strategic Concept That Justifies a Global Network of US Military Bases
Based on what strategic concept is the Bush administration carrying forward military realignment and maintaining its global base network in preparations for future first-strike wars? It is a belief that the only guarantee for "world peace" is the global dominance by the U.S. through its overwhelming military power, which denies challenge to any other nation. Three years ago, the then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, who played a leading role in writing the present administration's "National Security Strategy", said it so clearly in a speech she made on October 1, 2002 in New York.
"To support all these means of defending the peace, the United States will build and maintain in 21st century military forces that are beyond challenge. We will seek to dissuade any potential adversary from pursuing a military build-up in the hope of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States and our allies." "Dissuading military competition can prevent potential conflict and costly global arms races."
Someone compared this strategic viewpoint to that of the Great Britain in the 19th century, when its imperial global influence was in its prime. For both the Great Britain at that time and the U.S. today, "peace" means military repression of other nation, and, if deemed necessary, war of aggression.
Based on this standpoint, the U.S. has built a global network of military bases of more than 1,000, including clandestine ones, to use them as launching points for its military dominance and the projection of its armed forces.
In the process of the collapse of colonialism in world history, the U.S. gave up its colonial rule over such countries as Philippines, but its military dominance of the world by the military bases network is far more powerful than that of the British Empire, which once was the dominant force of the global colonialism. As demonstrated in its military use of high-technology, including nuclear weapons and information technology, and the militarization of space, a series of achievements of intellectual assets of human beings is being used by the U.S. for its imperial global dominance over the world, which represents anachronistic hegemonism. The U.S. global military network is equipped with all the state-of-the-art.
The U.S. operates a number of secret military bases, a group of unofficial facilities similar to those controversial CIA's hidden prisons in different countries. Let me name just three of such bases, which are not enrolled in a long list of U.S. military bases Pentagon publishes every year.
One is Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, built 6 years ago during the war in Yugoslavia as a facility for ﾒpeacekeeping forces." The camp still exists in secrecy as a permanent U.S. army base, and it was revealed recently that one of the CIA's notorious "black sitesﾓ had been set up in it. Another is Camp Rhino, the first military base the U.S. built as it invaded Afghanistan. It is an undisclosed Marine Corps' installation established in the south of Kandahar. The base operates literally in direct contact with the Marines in Okinawa and the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo. In Camp Rhino, too, a secret prison, like the one at the Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, whose existence and operation have long been criticized by human rights groups in Europe. And we must take note of the U.S. bases in Iraq, a country that is effectively under occupation with the presence of more than 150,000 U.S. military personnel. There, the U.S. is trying to perpetuate those temporary bases including Camp Victory located near Baghdad.
4. U.S. Military Bases in Japan - Unjustifiable History
U.S. military bases have been present in Japan for sixty years now. In terms of magnitude of operation forces and front-line command system for preemptive attack strategy, and in many other ways, U.S. bases in Japan today form the world's largest group of US bases, and their role will be even more prominent in the present U.S. military transformation plan. In contrast to the significant reduction planned for U.S. bases and forces in Germany, Japan is about to become a nation with the largest US military presence in every aspect.
I want to call your attention to the fact as an undeniable truth in history that the U.S. in no way followed fair rules of international community in settling these abhorrent military bases in our country.
The U.S. military presence in Japan immediately after the end of World War II was a result of Japanﾕs defeat in the war against the Allies, which started with Japan's war of aggression. The stationing of U.S. forces in Japan represented the will of Allied nations. The U.S. government, however, soon started to transform Japan into a military stronghold to pursue its hegemonic strategies, in the name of implementing "Cold War policies," violating the Potsdam Declaration.
To pursue this goal, the U.S. government took two unlawful measures and imposed them upon Japan.
One was the forced separation of Okinawa, one of Japan's 47 prefectures, from the Japanese administration, placing it under the direct U.S. military and colonial occupation. In 1951, in concluding the "peace" treaty with Japan, the U.S. incorporated a provision that would allow an indefinite and complete U.S. occupation of Okinawa. The conservative government of Japan at that time signed the treaty. This very act of colonial rule, prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations, caused vehement anger among Okinawans and a major national struggle for the island's return to Japan. As a result of the struggle, the U.S. ultimately had to give up the complete occupation of Okinawa, even in the absence of provision on waiver of the occupation in the treaty. With the cooperation of the Liberal Democratic Party government of the time, however, the U.S. succeeded in maintaining most of its bases on the island, as if the situation did not change any after it abandoned its complete occupation. This is the root cause of all the base problems in Okinawa, where contradictions between the U.S. military presence and people's lives are especially sharp.
Therefore, the U.S. bases in Okinawa must be completely removed without delay. There is no ground for imposing damage and economic burden on the Japanese people by relocating them to other places.
Another historic wrong committed by the U.S. for continuing its military presence in Japan has to do with those bases stationed in other prefectures. In exchange for concluding a peace treaty in 1951, the U.S. sought permanent presence of its forces in Japan with no legal grounds. It secretly proposed to the then Prime Minister Yoshida Tadashi the conclusion of a security treaty between the U.S. and Japan. With Japan being under the complete U.S. occupation, the negotiations were conducted behind the door, and no information was given to the Japanese people. No newspaper reported on the substance of the draft treaty before its conclusion. What is notable is that on September 8, 1951, only a few hours after the signing of the peace treaty in San Francisco, some members of Japan's plenipotentiary delegation were taken to a non-commissioned officers' club in the Army base in the city. There, the signing ceremony of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was held, which took only 10 minutes. An aberrant thing was that Prime Minster Yoshida Shigeru was the only person who signed the treaty on behalf of the Japanese government, although the plenipotentiary delegation consisted of six members.
A few years later, the U.S. State Department recorded the whole truth of the process in a classified internal report, which said: "The treaty provisions were known to only a few American and Japanese officials and there was no public knowledge of its contents until it was signed (at San Francisco). Prime Minister Yoshida was the only person that signed for Japan, as the other Japanese plenipotentiaries did not know of its contents."
In this way, the Japanese people's earnest desire and will to put an end to the militarism and the tragedies of the war of aggression, and to build a peaceful nation, were forced out by deception, shadowy secret talks and the imposition of anachronistic militaristic colonial rule. This is how Japan continues to endure the enormous U.S. military presence in the country.
The Japanese public, especially the young generation, must be fully informed of this historical background of unjust U.S. military presence in their country. This is extremely important if we are to come up with basic principles to address the military base issue.
5. How to Develop Struggle for the Withdrawal of Military Bases
We are witnessing outpourings of sharp criticism and rage against the US military realignment plan. How should we develop our struggle to withdraw US bases and to achieve a just and peaceful world?
First, in Japan, we must support those local residents and governments voicing together strong resistance and opposition to the realignment plan. It is also important to develop cooperation and solidarity with many more people in order to stop build-up of any of the existing bases and attempts to perpetuate their presence.
Anti-base public opinion and movements developing in the communities concerned must be shared by the whole nation. It is an urgent task to inform every Japanese of why and how those residents in the communities hosting U.S. military bases are protesting the realignment plan to create sympathetic opinion among people all over the country.
Declassified U.S. documents on U.S. military bases in Japan clearly show that the successive U.S. governments have always been very afraid of the possibility of the local residents' anti-base sentiments, caused by friction and contradictions arising from the U.S. military presence, into a national concern to threaten the Japan-U.S. security setup. The documents well explain that in order to avoid that, they have taken various measures to mitigate the contradictions and to "reduce the burdens" to a certain extent. They dread the possibility of the base issue becoming a national political issue.
This is exactly what we want, and to make it happen through the campaign against the realignment plan, we need to see into the real aim and the strategy of the Japanese and U.S. governments for realigning U.S. bases in Japan.
At the same time, those acting consciously for peace in Japan and the world must choose a direction for a Japan without military bases anywhere on its soil. To achieve this, we must redouble our efforts to mobilize people to form a majority calling for the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the legal base for the Japanese and U.S. governments to maintain the U.S. military presence in Japan and to promote a posture that enables the two countries wage wars together. I want to give a special emphasis on this point. We need to gather ideas and channel our energies into such efforts.
At the same time, I truly hope for a major progress in the worldwide movement against U. S. bases and strengthening of international solidarity to close foreign U.S. bases with the help of the overseas delegates who are with us today. To achieve this goal, the urgent task now is, I believe, to start exchanging and sharing information on the current situations of U.S. bases in respective countries and the movements against the global deployment of U.S. military forces.
I strongly hope that the participants will exchange specific opinions in this regard at this symposium and all other occasions during the Japan Peace Conference.