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DPJ's Ozawa: U.S. Navy in Japan is enough


I have previously written about Ozawa’s lack of knowledge when it comes to strategic military matters. Without going into too much detail, it seems that Ozawa also forgot about the constitutional limitations placed on Japan to “defend” itself. His time spent as a politician apparently has not helped him understand the “basic” requirements needed to support and defend Japan’s and the United States’ interests in the region. Apparently Ozawa read and took to heart the speech from Kent Calder, an American political scientist knowledgeable of Japan and a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

As I mentioned in a previous post:  “If the US had to respond to a conflict on the Korean Peninsula and needed troops from the Continental United States, it would take a Carrier Task Force (CTF) traveling at 20 knots 11-days to reach the peninsula. If it had to respond to a Middle East crisis it would need 20-days to reach the Gulf of Oman. On the other hand, it would take that same CTF two-days to reach the Korean Peninsula and 11-days to reach the Gulf of Oman if the US maintained forward deployed forces in Japan. The first troops to arrive in response to Iraq invading Kuwait leading to the first Gulf war were the Marines from the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Okinawa. 

One has to remember that seven of the world’s largest armed forces are located in the Asia-Pacific region. The unpredictable security climate in the Asia-Pacific region (e.g., the Takeshima/Tokdo dispute, a rising China, the Taiwan issue, the unstable DPRK regime, piracy in the Strait of Malacca, conflict in South West Asia, terrorism, other) requires that the US rapidly respond. For instance, considering the number of humanitarian crisis in the Asia-Pacific region recently, removing too many bases and troops will potentially diminish the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.” More on my opinion here.

 Maybe Ozawa includes the US Marine forces in Okinawa when he speaks of the Seventh Fleet. I need to check the Japanese text. The following report is from the Sankei Shimbun:

“Democratic Party of Japan (Minshuto) President Ichiro Ozawa clarified his views yesterday regarding the issue of realigning U.S. forces in Japan, indicating that the forces of the U.S. Navy alone would be enough for the future U.S. military presence in Japan. “For the United States to forward station troops at this time is meaningless,” Ozawa said. “In the sense of military strategy, the Seventh Fleet alone is enough for the U.S. presence in the Far East,” he added.

In addition, Ozawa also said: “As for the rest, Japan should undertake its role for its national security and play its role in the Far East. I think they will understand this.” With this, Ozawa implied plans to realign and reduce the presence of U.S. military bases in Japan through such measures as cooperating on United Nations activities after his party takes office. He was replying to a question asked by a reporter in Kashiba, Nara Prefecture.

Ozawa stressed: “Japan should not always be at the beck and call of the United States. Instead, we, too, should have an appropriate global strategy. Japan should do more to share the role at least for matters related to Japan. If we do so, the United States’ role will decrease.” Meanwhile, Japan has now entered into an agreement with the United States to relocate Okinawa-based U.S. Marines to Guam, and the government has asked the Diet for its approval of the pact. The question is whether the DPJ will agree to this pact. Asked about this, Ozawa avoided clarifying his view, saying, “I want you to ask about specifics after we take office.”

In its manifesto for the 2007 House of Councillors election, the DPJ took the position that the party would study the U.S. military presence for security in the Asia-Pacific region and how to position U.S. military bases in Japan.”

One Comment

  1. Orchid64 Orchid64 February 25, 2009

    “Japan should not always be at the beck and call of the United States. Instead, we, too, should have an appropriate global strategy. Japan should do more to share the role at least for matters related to Japan. If we do so, the United States’ role will decrease.”

    I think there’s a mistranslation here since Japan isn’t at America’s “beck and call”. It’s essentially the other way around. If Japan needs help, America comes running. In fact, if recent economic issues are any indication, they expect America to fix all of their problems (as they are looking to Obama to solve the world economic crisis).

    At any rate, I agree that Japan should be ready to start taking on some of the burden of its own defense and America’s role should be reduced. However, it’s more than simply what is sensible or what Japan has a right to do (and America does not). Ozawa conveniently ignores this and its my guess that he has no real intention of pushing for America’s diminished military presence in Japan. His statements are little more than political pandering to the right-wing extremists.

    The truth is that, economically, socially, and in a worldwide political sense, Japan needs America to keep playing the role it currently plays. It’s cheaper to have American bases than for Japan to provide its defense largely (or entirely) on its own. Japan already has more per capita debt than America. Do they want to start spending more for defense?

    Socially speaking, the Japanese population isn’t going to take enthusiastically to serving in the military and there may be difficulties recruiting a standing army. As it is, most self-defense force members would think twice about enlisting if they felt there was risk of serious combat. The Japanese have not been involved in actively defending themselves for so long that the notion of being a soldier has seriously fallen out of favor.

    Finally, Japan is held in certain regard because it is viewed as a pacifist country. Other countries interact with them based on this perception. Their international relations become greatly more complicated, particularly when dealing with Korea and China, should they start building up their military and phasing out the American defense system currently in place. There’s every chance that Japan building up its own military could have disastrous effects on its relationship with the countries it attacked and occupied during World War II.

    As an American, I’d be more than happy to see the U.S. stop taking care of Japan. While it may strategically be in its best interest, it certainly is not in the U.S.’s economic interest to be Japan’s hired guns. While Japan does pay America for the support on the bases, they don’t pay 100% of the cost of keeping defensive forces here.

    Most Japanese who oppose the U.S. presence are ignorant of the costs to Japan in removing the bases. Most of them only approach it emotionally or nationalistically rather than weighing the other costs.

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