Obama to Okinawa: Abandon Hope and Change; Regional Security Necessitates U.S. Troops on Japanese Island

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

Obama to Okinawa: Abandon Hope and Change; Regional Security Necessitates U.S. Troops on Japanese Island


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Anti-military activists overseas are learning what American peaceniks have found out over the course of the past 18 months: De-

spite President Obama's feel-good rhetoric, strategic realities sometimes do win out over peace-movement platitudes.

The latest blow is the decision by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to keep U.S. forces on the island of Okinawa under the terms of an agreement reached in 2006. Some on the island had hoped U.S. troops would be removed. Expectations were high after the 2008 U.S. election, when the Obamamania tsunami swept over the island. We hope that the new U.S. administration will give a full consideration to the voices of Okinawa, who do not want a replacement airport for Marine Corps Air Station on the island, said Zenshin Takamine, speaker of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, in December 2008. Expectations soared when Mr. Hatoyama, a charismatic, left-leaning Japanese Democrat, became prime minister in September 2009 after mounting his own hope-and-change campaign in which he promised to find a way to remove U.S. forces.

But Mr. Obama was not the hoped-for agent of change, and Mr. Hatoyama has backed off his campaign promise. More than 90,000 disappointed Okinawans took to the streets last month to rally against the American presence, and Mr. Takamine denounced Obama policies that treat Okinawa as a U.S. colony. Some members of Mr. Hatoyama's party are suggesting he resign for breaking his pledge.

National security won out over local politics. Mr. Hatoyama apologized for breaking his campaign promise and told Okinawans, I can't allow the deterrent power of the U.S. forces in Japan, including the Marine Corps, to decline, given that the security environment in East Asia remains fragile. Okinawa, located between the southern tip of Japan's main islands and Taiwan, is prime strategic real estate; Marine Lt. Gen. …

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