Japanese FM Rules Out Base Deal During Obama Visit

Massive Protests Against US Base on Okinawa

by Jason Ditz, November 08, 2009

Though the rising dispute over US military bases in Okinawa has been a hot subject for Japanese foreign policy, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada says that his government will not finalize any deals during President Obama’s visit later this week.

US bases (red) on Okinawa

Tensions have been rising between Japan and the United States since Japan’s Democratic Party (DPJ) took power in August, the first major regime change the nation has seen since World War 2. The DPJ ran on the basis of ending US dictation of Japanese foreign policy, and called for a renegotiation of the Okinawa base deal.

But the US has absolutely ruled out any renegotiations, and has demanded the new government accept the deals the previous government signed, even though the unpopularity of those deals was in no small way responsible for the DPJ’s election. The US has grown impatient with the delay, and Japan has threatened to oust them entirely from Okinawa.

Which it seems may suit the Okinawans just fine, as an estimated 21,000 organized a massive protest along the beach calling for the removal of the US Marine base. Okinawans have complained that since the US occupation, they have been asked to bear an inordinate amount of responsibility for housing American forces, and the crime and pollution they bring with them.

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