Hope Cristobal (Sr.) forwarded me an op-ed article today from the Japan Times, by Kiroku Hanai. The article outlines the current debate raging in Japan about the proposed base realignment which would result in relocating US marines, their families, and support personnel to Guam.
Most of the local folks on Guam are pretty pissed off about this plan -- not having been involved in it, or asked their opinion about it, despite the fact that the buildup would severely and adversely impact their already over-burdened island. But it appears that the local folks on Okinawa are also pissed off. I met with a contingent from Okinawa at the Security Without Empire conference last month, and after watching The Insular Empire they came up and told me how similar the Marianas story was to their own... because evidently the planned military move doesn't actually remove the US military from Okinawa -- it merely moves one US base from one location (Futenma) to another (Nago) -- AS WELL as moving the marines to Guam. The proposed Nago site is also something of an environmental disaster: it would fill in almost 2 square kilometres of ocean, including habitat of the endangered 'dugong' sea mammal. (Think baby beluga meets manatee.) And the Japanese taxpayers are supposed to be footing 60% of the bill for all of this.
Well, I can hear you all saying, isn't the New Age of Obama going to change all this? I would have liked to think so, but in fact Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton's first official overseas visit was to Japan, where -- as the Japan Times article points out -- she did her best to push through plans for the move, despite growing protest from Japan. (And Guam. And Okinawa. The Okinawans, in fact, have been holding a daily sit-in at the proposed Henoko site since 1997. That's twelve years. Every day. They even go out in kayaks and do sit-ins on the tower construction sites off-shore. They *really* don't want that base there.)
Kiroku Hanai writes: "Clinton's visit to Japan and the execution of the Guam transfer agreement can only be interpreted as an attempt by Washington to secure its vested rights to maintain military bases in Japan. If so, it will undoubtedly come as a big disappointment to those Japanese citizens of sound judgment who earnestly hoped that President Obama would depart from the belligerent policies of his predecessor."