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February 1, 2010
U.S. reevaluates large troop presence in Japan

On Saturday, a huge rally took place in Tokyo at which many called for an end to the American military presence in Okinawa.

Behind the scenes, American diplomats were working feverishly to preserve an agreement that would allow the troops to remain by moving them to a less populated part of the island.

As Tom Metcalf of Al Jazeera English reports, the future for U.S. troops in Japan is uncertain.

For more about U.S. troops in Okinawa, Daljit Dhaliwal interviews Weston Konishi, an adjunct fellow with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.

Do you think it is essential to American security that U.S. troops stay in Japan?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Reference #14, I hear you!! I was stationed on Okinawa in 1986. Even then they were lobbying to have U.S. troops removed but the issue was not widely publicized. After all this time I agree it’s time to bring our Marines home. I was asked by alot of friends what is our reason for being here? Good question. I’d like to see an administration get elected that pursues the need to bring our troops home from Europe and Asia. Others would say it was a sign of weakness. Yeah right, if you ask the general public in America we have no need to protect these other countries. Does anyone see a double-standard for us when a crisis occurs, we get bitched at for intervening and we get bitched at for not intervening. I’d rather hear them complain if the U.S. didn’t intervene and our response is, ‘This is your problem not ours.”


As a U.S.-born Korean citizen, I have mixed feelings about U.S.Army in Korea & Japan..South Korean youngsters are well-known for their anti-USA behaviour which riles U.S. a great deal..But with new Korean President Lee Myung Bak who is pro-U.S.A. the U.S. seems to have no intention to pull out of Korea altogether even if both Koreas will be reunified..78% of South Koreans are positive about U.S. and North Korea’s nuke issue matters a lot to Americans..All U.S.Army in Korea will be relocated to Pyongtaek(평택) and Korean Government will continue to defray the costs of burden-sharing of stationing U.S.Army in Korea.IF Americans want to leave Okinawa that’s their choice to do so..All I want is no war only peace between 2 Koreas whether U.S.Army is in Japan or not..By the way there are some South Korean soldiers who took part in joint U.S.-Japan military exercise and also there is a Korean guy working inside U.S. base in Okinawa..


Bring the troops home. It is way past due. I think we have worn out our welcome.


The US should definitely keep troops in Japan, although they could reduce the presence somewhat. I was stationed in Japan for two years and the Japanese government, as well as the majority of Japanese citizens, prefers to keep the security alliance as it is. Check the Japanese media over the Futenma issue if you don’t believe my view. The Japanese government pays a large chunk of the expenses for the US presence. Moreover, our military presence does cause countries like North Korea and China to moderate their policies. China will pursue a more peaceful development path because the costs of challenging the US-Japan security alliance are too high.


The cold war is over yet we forgot to bring our troops home from Japan and from Europe. Let Japan pay for its own national security, and let America let to rest its place as the only remaining super power. The war is over.


Japan has one of the world’s largest stockpile of weapons grade Plutonium, from decades of nuclear power plant production. By some estimate that is enough for about 5,000 250KT warheads. You thought the Taliban was a blowback story. You don’t know Jack, and you certainly don’t know how long Japan (as a nation) can hold a grudge. Of course, the Japanese LOVE Americans – how can they not? Half a century of SOFA and 80,000 “incidents” of being under occupation, how could it be otherwise? What me worry?!


I believe that because of the US government’s budget deficit it is esssential that we review the policy of keeping large numbers of US ground forces stationed in so many countries around the word. Why do we still need thousands of troops stationed in Japan 65 years after the end of World War II? Why do we still need 50,000 US troops in South Korea? How many US ground forces are still in Europe even after numbers were reduced there a few years ago? Can we still afford to be the world’s policeman?


no comment on this one


There’s only one rogue nation in north east Asia, North Korea. The need for such a large military presents in the regent is ridicules.


US should definitely pull out. Let japanese people make their own decision. If some people point their fingers, they should remmber that US is the country that bombed Japan with nuclear weapons and did massive killings.


I am a chinese and am amused by some of the comments here. Alright, let say the bullshits that US is protecting japan from potential nuclear threats from China or North Korea etc etc…But, did you guy even give a thought that US has been the only country in the world that used nuclear bombs in another country that led to massive killings, and that country happens to be Japan? You people should feel the burn of shame when you point your fingers out. I totally understand those janpanese people’s feeling when they yelled “get out”


As a Vietnam era veteran I cannot see any justification to prolong the occupation of foreign soil. Who is the enemy here? China? If they wish to run over Taiwan, Korea and Japan they can do it any time. Fact is: it is not in their interest but they are NOT deterred by a few thousand US troops.


America has already lost the world chess match of international influence-time to come home!!


They should thank us for being there and protecting them. Never forget Pear Harbor.


American should leave Japan all together. I’ll get pop corns when Kim Jong Mentally-Ill “tests” some of his missiles over the Sea of Japan. God forbids there is another Cold War with Russia, the Japanese will be sorry that the American are gone.


I say get the troops out of there. That way when North Korea bombs them ,like they are South Korea, our guys won’t be killed or when China gets back at them for thier invasion of China, something that the Chinese are still angry able. I sure the Japanese can take them both on without the US’s help in the least. However, if Japan is taken over or blown into nonexistents it will be the Japanese peoples fault.


As an American, I’m really sick of our troops being stationed all across the planet. It’s time to bring them ALL home. And let’s start with Okinawa. That’s what the local people want. Is it so challenging to abide by what they want?!


Mine and your tax dollars have gone to wage war since 2000 so that the richest most secure people in history can get wealthier. This will not stop until all people realize that this is a global problem that affects more than any nation and truly unites us all in a common goal of peace, understanding and love. We have 1000’s of Men and Women stationed in Sovereign countries to which those countries have no say in Judicial or Criminal cases. How many of our troops and dollars are spent overseas for our safety? The war on terror is truly a war on free speech, free people, and an excuse to invade foreign lands of economic value. Stop giving Cheney and Bush your money. Stop WAR!!!!! Long live a FREE AMERICA. Speak Up!
Save Our Money!!!


The sun is setting on the US empire,as it should.Keeping any troops in Japan can only make the process more painful for all concerned.
The real reason that they are there is not defense,but to keep Japan as a quasi-colony.The Japanese know that,and are understandably resentful.They are also too polite,and maybe too scared,to tell Americans how they really feel.But it’s inevitable that the US Occupation Lite troops will be asked to leave,sooner rather than later.
Oh,and as to the allegedly warlike Japanese:The Edo period(beginning of the 17th century to the 1860’s) may be a world’s record for long-lasting foreign and domestic peace.
Frankly,Uncle Sam’s worst enemy is himself.Playing Big Boss of the World can only end in less security for the American people and trouble people everywhere.


Tom said “You think these Half Apes would have rebuilt your country if they had won that war?”

This is exactly why Japanese want to kick American soldiers out.
I do not say all of them are bad,
but they have killed and raped too many Japanese since the war ended becuase many of them think it is Okay to commit crimes againt Japanese as Japanese are yellow monkeys for them.
The most notorious case was about 10 years ago, three GIs abducted 11 years old girl from the street and gangraped her. Needless to say Okinawans were very upset.
American soldiers are clearly trouble makers in Japan where its crime rate is much much lower than US’s.
And American media rarely covers things like this because they know Americans do not hear this kind of stories. It is a shame!


Withdraw the troops. It really should be up to the Japanese people. Would we accept their troops in our country? Please, America, wake up. We are a nation among other nations, neither more nor less.


How would our country react if foreign troops were stationed here? I say let the Japanese decide if our troops should stay.


Pull the troops. Japan is a good friend and a prosperous nation. Let them be. We need to save some money. 47000 troops cost a lot. Mothball the planes in Arizona with the rest of the cold war trappings.


It is time to pull the troops.


What is most essential to US National Security, is that a Soveriegn Japan is left to make it’s own Decision!
The People of Okinawa & Japan, should be the ONLY Ones with a say in the matter!!
That’s the only way to treat a “True Ally”….

Peace, Love & Respect.


I think the US should keep its troops and its bases in Okinawa. It is necessary to keep US safe. Plus Japan has become controversial as well as it’s past military aggressions on the world. I think we need to stay to keep things in check.


The Okinawa bases are a relic of our cold war containment strategy. We don’t need them; the Japanese don’t want them. Closing them down is long overdue.


We should withdraw gracefully. Neither the Okinawans nor the main islands’ Japanese want us there anymore, and with the U.S./China detente and the collapse of the Soviet Union there is little continuing reason for an imperial outpost there. I favor a close trading relationship between the U.S. and East Asia through which we can still be influential, but the old days of U.S.regional musculature I think should be forgotten.


A definite NO. The US should start to think of its security in non-military terms. How would the US protect its “essential interests” if it had no military, or a military that was only one-quarter or one-half of what it has now? Currently, the US is quick to choose the military option because it has overwhelming military power and has invested so much in its arms. If it has less military power, in my view, it would rely less on military solutions and improve its overall security. So, I say, let’s leave Okinawa to the Okinawans.


Bring the troops home. Does a wealthy, democracy need US troops on their soil 65 years after we defeated them?


I think if the Good people of Japan want us to leave then we should. If they feel they can protect themselves,s then let them have at it. The only thing i think the “United States of America” should absolutely demand, is to be paid in full for the military Base and all thing,s related to it,s upkeep, it,s runways, access road,s ect. ect. After all we built it and did massive improvement’s on it and, we all know their going to take full advantage of it and put it to good use for their economy. Now that,s fair! p.s.We should also pull out of Europe and let them start to carry their own load and, all of Europe should contribute more Forces to NATO. The U.S.A. has shed more BLOOD and tresure than any post WW11 country!!! Let,s only do what we have to and start taking care of AMERICA and our citizen,s.


Having been stationed at Camp Kadina on Okinawa, my feeling has always been that we should relocate to Guam. The people of Okinawa for hundred of years fought to keep Japan from defeating their independance. Now we should allow the islanders to have their island back and their automity from Toyko to reestablish itself.


the presence of US troops out there is a remnant of an era that is now part of history, not the present. Japan’s security should be left to the Japanese to deal with.


We are now the largest “debtor” nation in the world. Can we affort to protect the world? We should bring the troops home or MAKE Japan pay the full price for their presence. We can no longer affort to pay for policing the world
. Japan should pay the bill or we should leave.


President Obama can hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner and leave Japan.


The US should bring ALL their troops home from around the world


I served on Okinawa when we gave it back to the Japanese in ’72, much to the disgust of a fellow Marine, who had been there when we took it from them in “45. No talk of the Kurile Islands, which were “annexed” by Russia after their declaration of war on Japan in the waning days of WWII. Japan has been very happy letting the U.S. carry the burden of their defense.Let’s pack our bags, come home, and let the Japanese deal with “Rising China”. Then they can complain to Russia about their northern islands (good luck).


Reference # 4 – you stand to be corrected – Japans is as we write back in forth correcting each other a rising military power – we slept once and on December 7th 1941 we got the wake up call – ask the ghost of the USS Arizona. Just because the Japanese don’t publish their military accomplishment and intentions does not mean that it is not there. But I hope you are right and that I am wrong. As far as the US Naval forces – yes currently we are the most powerful – but you need to educate yourself on China’s up and coming military might you might be surprised at how powerful they are becoming – remember that the US is the lead domino in the theory of the fall of the west. You have your views and I have mine – but this writer feels that it’s very important to have bases around the world to act efficiently and precise when the need arises. If what you say is true then we ought to just – dispand our military complex and “trust” all countries of the world – how long do you think we would last. JIM @ USA


Mission accomplished in Japan. Time to get out.


Oddly, I bet weapons makers won’t care either way: If we pull and force Japan to contain her own military, who do you think will sell them their weapons? Trust me, U.S. corps and their lobbyists will figure out someway to make a corrupt and/or counterproductive buck. Weapons are one of the few remainging successful exports we have, unfortunately it perpetually comes back to haunt us. But I don’t want to ruin the surprise.


If the United States wants continue being a leader, they should get out of places like Japan! America has better things to do with it’s decreasing dollars than to throw them away in Okinawa.


There is no money for anything. Bring the troops home from everywhere, cut out foreign aid, shut down many gov’t departments and programs, and pay off the debt.


I disagree completely. Japan is near to China and North Korea. It does not have the military power to protect itself from a China or North Korea military attack. In fact with recent testing of rockets that could carry nuclear war heads, done by North Korea. This leaves Japan very vulnerable to such an attack. Their self defense forces need US military back up in the event of such an attack by China and North Korea. The Cold War is still going in between Japan, the US, and China, and North Korea. It is in our and Japan’s best interests to have a military presence in or around Japan.


No! It’s a waste of money and makes people hate us (more). Obama should quietly freeze and reduce our tax dollars that are spent on ALL unnecessary offshore military bases. And I’m happy to see how many people on this site are in agreement.


We should get out. The Japanese don’t want us there so we can’t keep on insisting that we are there to protect Japan, they don’t need or want our help. We are there to intimidate the North Koreans and the Chinese but those days are over. The foreign policy makers need to move from the cold war to the present.


Being Canadian I have the comfortable luxury of being able to comment on issues that are of interest but not really my business: The USA should very much pull-in its Military muscle where it does not directly serve peace maintenance. In those locations where the US is at war then it should move to complete those actions and move on.


Re: Jim Weekley @1: First of all, under what scenario do you imagine a rising Japan threatening the US? Japan has very little in the way of a military, as show no inclination towards militarism or imperialism since WWII (while the US has and continues to). Perhaps we should maintain a base in every country around the world to ensure that they don’t “rise” again.

We have absolutely no need for bases in Japan. Sure, some hawks will say we require a presence in the region to menace China and North Korea. Even if under some scenario military tensions arose with either country, the US has the most potent naval force in the world. In addition, China and the US have such crucial economic ties, that military tensions would be against the interest of both.

Keeping a network of bases open across the globe to maintain the American empire makes little sense with 10% unemployment at home, a “freeze” on discretionary domestic spending, and threats to Medicare and Social Security.


At a time when President Obama and Republicans are resisting spending money on jobs at home because of the effect on our deficit, it is absurd to continue our costly military presence in Japan. That presence buys us far more international ill will than security.


If the U.S.A wants to have troops in Japan, I said Vietnam should also have troops based in the U.S.A; after all, they won the war in Vietnam.
The American troop build up in Japan and in Germany should be discontinued. After 65 years of occupation, enough is enough.


Yes on the one hand and no on the other. Yes, that we may have to some day once again fear a rising Japan. No on the other in that Japan’s security is at far more risk that ours with Terrorism on the rise and with China becoming increasingly expanding it’s influence around the globe. As far as moving our base to a less populated area – who is going to pay for all of this renovation – the Japanese or the US Tax Payer once again. Here we sit at home here in the US with the worst economic disaster since the depression era of the 1930’s and we’re not doing one damn thing here but when it comes to foreign aid – wow it’s a blank check all the way. JIM @ USA

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