Monday, March 10, 2008

Chalmers Johnson has it right again

One of the so-called revisionists of the standard Reischauer myth of Japan during the 1980s and early nighties, has written a short article on Japan Focus:

.....the Japanese government speaks with a forked tongue. For the sake of the Okinawans forced to live cheek-by-jowl with 37 US military bases on their small island, Tokyo condemns the behavior of the Americans. Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo called the recent assault "unforgivable" and demanded tighter military discipline. But that is as far as it goes.

The Japanese government has never even discussed why a large standing army of Americans is garrisoned on Japanese territory, some 63 years after the end of World War II. There is never any analysis in the Japanese press or by the government of whether the Japanese-American Security Treaty actually requires such American troops.
See Japan Focus 2886.

The article lightly addresses the questionable need for the U.S. military in Japan. It seems to be just a standard throw-away line used by politicians in both countries as well as policy wonks. The reason for the need for us to be here changes with the wind, but it never changes in importance for the continued existence of the planet. Should the U.S. pull out, Japan will build its military and probably go nuclear. Then of course China will respond. As will both Koreas. Within seconds of the departure of the last U.S. troop, World War 3 will begin as the nukes start flying all over East Asia, ultimately bring the U.S. into the conflict followed by Europe, all of South America, Quebec, and numerous bands of nomadic goat herders. The world will end shortly thereafter.

One nitpic I have with the article is that he refers to military personnel as "heavily armed young Americans." Off duty personnel are not heavily armed. In fact, unless they are training or on alert, very few on duty personnel are armed, let alone heavily armed. One might also get the impression from this short article that rapes and crimes by the military are widespread. They are not.

But once again, that is not the point. The point is that many people, at least in the media, think that military crime is widespread. Plus, SOFA is not viewed as fair. As long as there is any crime by a U.S. military member in Okinawa, it will be too much crime for the media and much of the public. The answer is a quick goodbye and good luck from Uncle Sam to Japan. Never happen though.

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