The US-Japan ‘Alliance’, Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections

1. Agreement after Agreement

World attention through the early months of 2010 focussed on the tiny hamlet of Henoko in Northern Okinawa as Prime Minister Hatoyama struggled to find a way to meet his (and the Democratic Party of Japan's) electoral commitment to see that no substitute for the existing Futenma Marine Air Station be constructed in Okinawa. Confronted by adamantine pressures from the US government, and surrounded by uncooperative (some would say even traitorous) bureaucrats who insisted there was no other way but to submit to the US-Japan agreement to construct a new base negotiated by the former LDP government. Hatoyama duly capitulated, reaching agreement on 28 May 2010 that the 2009 Guam International Agreement (or Treaty) would be implemented, and that Japan would pay $7 billion towards the cost of relocating 8,000 Marines and 9,000 of their family members from Futenma to Guam by 2014, while also constructing a “Futenma Replacement Facility” in the vicinity of Henoko, by the shores of the Oura Bay in Northern Okinawa. Details of the “location, configuration and construction method would be completed … no later than the end of August” by a joint committee of specialists.

The May 2010 US-Japan inter-governmental agreement replaced the February 2009 Agreement (formally adopted by the Diet of Japan as a treaty in May), which in turn reiterated the terms of the 2006 “United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation,” which in turn incorporated a pledge between the two governments that goes back to 1996: Futenma to be returned to Japan “within three to five years” when an appropriate replacement facility was ready. Fourteen years on, there is less sign than ever of this “world’s most dangerous base” (as Donald Rumsfeld is said to have described it) being returned or liquidated any time soon, or a new base being constructed at Henoko, and the August deadline set in May was itself extended to November.

Hatoyama’s resignation followed the most sustained and intense spell of abuse and intimidation to which any m

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