Impasse at MCAS Futenma
Author: Dustin Wright
In 1960, a Japanese prime minister was forced to resign after he committed Japan to an unpopular security relationship with the United States. In 2010, exactly fifty years later, the security relationship with the United States, centered on the stationing of a vast U.S. base complex in Japan, has unseated a prime minister who came to office just last year with an over 70 percent approval rating. In the small southern prefecture of Okinawa, where 75 percent of the U.S. military in Japan is stationed, the continued presence of the unpopular Futenma air base has become a lodestone for Okinawan frustration. High-level talks to remove Futenma from the crowded city of Ginowan have been ongoing since 1996, yet nothing has been accomplished. On 25 April 2010, an estimated 90,000 people rallied in Okinawa and demanded the base be removed from the prefecture completely, and not simply relocated to a location near the city of Nago. This essay attempts to explain Washington's central role in creating the problem and argues that Futenma is an unnecessary burden on the people of Okinawa and on cash-strapped Japanese and American taxpayers.