Gates Growing Impatient with Japan on Base

New Japanese Govt's Increasing Independence Irks Defense Secretary

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ increasing impatience with the new Japanese government over the status of American military bases in Okinawa is becoming harder and harder to conceal.

Public disquiet over what were seen as unfair terms negotiated by the Liberal Democratic Party played a major role in in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ’s) victory, the first major transfer of power in Japan since the US occupation.

But the US, used to getting its way in dealings with Japan, has been increasingly short with the new government, and Gates in particular has repeatedly demanded that the DPJ live up to the old party’s deals.

But that isn’t why the DPJ was elected, and the rare power change in the normally politically ambivalent nation shows a Japan looking to assert its independence and carve out a more equitable relationship with the US. It is unlikely the US will give up such a key vassal in the far east easily, but the more pressure it puts on the DPJ the more the party is likely to resist the Obama Administration’s demands.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.