Few strategic issues engender more debate than the future of the US presence in the Far East. Topping the list is what to do about the American bases on Okinawa. The US and Japan had ironed out an agreement on how to realign the bases there to suit the needs of both nations. That, however, has not ended complaints over the American facilities.
Two factors have driven the debate over the planned U.S. military realignment in Japan: campaign pledges made by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and complaints from Okinawans about the presence of the U.S. military. Recently several US senators proposed abandoning Okinawa and moving American forces to Guam and Tinian.
This fractious issue is the subject of a new research paper by Heritage Foundation regional expert Bruce Klingner. In the "Top 10 Reasons Why the U.S. Marines on Okinawa Are Essential to Peace and Security in the Pacific."
In his paper, Klingner points out that the dispute neglects such critical factors as national interests, regional threats, and the U.S.-Japan alliance's military requirements. In his paper, Klingner explains why these considerations should take precedence. He finds that the bases are indispensable to maintaining an adequate US military presence in Northeast Asia. Klinger concludes the Obama Administration should continue to press Japan for implementation of the military realignment agreement. It is past time for Tokyo to jettison its passive consensus-building approach and take more assertive steps.