I don’t know how this became urban legend around Tokyo, but whenever the topic of the Okinawa realignment comes up, people say it was in the Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ’s) summer Manifesto.
But really, no.
Here is what the English version said, under “Foreign Relations”, in the footnotes at Number 51:
VII. Foreign Relations
51. Build a close and equal Japan-U.S. relationship
Build a close and equal Japan-U.S. alliance to serve as the foundation of Japan’s foreign policy. For this purpose, having developed an autonomous foreign policy strategy for Japan, determine the assignment of functions and roles between Japan and the United States, and work positively to fulfill Japan’s responsibilities in this regard.
Promote liberalization of trade and investment through the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States. The measures will not include any which are detrimental to the safety and stable supply of food,
increasing Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio, and the development of Japan’s agricultural industry and its farming villages.
Propose the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. Move in the direction of re-examining the realignment of the U.S. military forces in Japan and the role of U.S. military bases in Japan.
I don’t know exactly what it said in Japanese, but the English translation provided by the DPJ did not say that Japan would look to breach the 2006 accord. Only that Japan would:
“move in the direction of re-examining the realignment of U.s. military forces in Japan”,
and, “the role of U.S. military bases in Japan.”
It’s clear now that the wording was struck like this on purpose. Because in English, the impression is that the DPJ would want to examine where and how the U.S. military is “hosted” in Japan in the future. And that’s good. Because it’s a commitment of ours that net-of-net costs America a lot of money. Even after omoi-yari-
yusan yosan, the so-called Sympathy Budget which is the money Japan provides to defray part of the costs of these bases. By the way, most of which is not omoi-yari at all but was agreed as part of the 1960 treaty!
This goes to the pet peeve of mine that here it seems difficult for some people to keep a contract once it’s made, unless that contract is terribly skewed in their favor. (So basically, no trade but only a situation of taking advantage.)
To me, if Japan wanted to negotiate SOFA again, right now, that would be great for America. As it stands, the treaty can be ended by either side with one year’s notice. So if Japan does not want bases in Okinawa, Japan can simply notify the treaty counterparty in Washington that Japan doesn’t want the treaty anymore.
And we would save a lot of money this way. At a time when money’s tight.
But they don’t do that. It’s nibble around the edges, and hum and haw about commitments. Make up somewhat derogatory names for commitments that were made in contract. Things that you’d associate with adolescents.
I guess this sort of response out of a treaty partner was one thing when Japan had reduced itself to rubble, and the ex-military was going home to eat mud pies and stone soup every night. But a lot changed since 1946, and so you wonder about this a bit.
On Obama’s trip, clearly nothing got accomplished except photo ops.
I would like to see Japan open up the whole SOFA to debate. Not just parts that had been agreed to.
Americans who live in this country lose when it becomes bickering about the small things. The people with power from back home take their eye off the ball. It becomes more about appeasing the powers-that-be in Japan, and less about how fair and equal Japan is being towards Americans here.
The discussion never gets on to labor, contract, and civil rights issues. Instead it stays on stale debates that America has no chance of looking good in anyway. Even while it keeps up its end of the bargains.