Much Ado About Nothing on Futenma

Mihoko Matsubara /

“Man is a giddy thing,” William Shakespeare might say, looking at the fuss over the relocation project of Futenma Air Station. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would never ask, “Dost thou not suspect my years?” The DPJ’s 2010 election manifesto emphasized the need for a strong alliance between Japan and the United States, a significant change from the 2009 election platform which sought a more equal alliance and reduced U.S. military presence in Japan.

Okinawa has been a cornerstone of the Japan-U.S. security alliance during the last 50 years. The little island rose in importance during the DPJ’s first year in office as it appeared that it might make or break the bilateral relationship after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama declared that his government would not abide by a previous agreement for the relocation of the Futenma Air Station. As a result, tensions rose amongst the U.S., Japan, and Okinawa over when and where to relocate the air station and how to reduce the military “burden” on Okinawa. Futenma is critical for the United States to support ground forces operations for a contingency on the Korean Peninsula. (more…)