U.S. Presence in Japan Aids Stability, Making Major Changes Soon Unlikely

By Nomura, Takehiko | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

U.S. Presence in Japan Aids Stability, Making Major Changes Soon Unlikely


Nomura, Takehiko, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Hyung Kook Kim, director of the Asian Studies Center at American University and assistant professor of international relations, spoke to reporter Takehiko Nomura about Pacific security issues.

Question: The rape of a 12-year-old girl in Okinawa, for which three U.S. servicemen are on trial, has stirred strong feelings against the U.S. military in Japan. Are any changes likely concerning U.S. bases in Okinawa?

Answer: I don't think we will see any major structural change any time soon. Simply, it's not going to happen in that way.

If there is any change, we may expect minor change or change with more important but symbolic meaning - providing the Japanese government with an opportunity for face-saving - for example . . . a better way of handling U.S. soldiers involved with criminal cases.

Okinawans . . . [resent] both the Japanese government and the U.S. government. [It was a major] battleground during World War II and occupied by the United States for a long time after that.

Q: How important is the U.S. military presence in Japan for the rest of Asia?

A: It's very important for both Japan and the United States. The U.S. military presence in Japan for the past 50 years has provided stability for Japan. It's also an important means of maintaining American interests in Asia.

For Asia, the American troops in Japan are very important because they play a certain role as a balance - checking Japan and Asia. I think [the U.S. presence] is going to become more important than ever before because of the economic interdependence among countries in Asia-Pacific.

Q: If Washington decided to gradually withdraw its forces from Japan, what would happen?

A: There would be major changes in terms of Japan's defense posture. …

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