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US Administration Steps Down re Okinawa Base


LALIT has noticed that, as we predicted, the USA is obliged to embark on spending cuts, many of them in the field of the war machinery. Thus, cuts of 87 billion were recently announced in so-called defense spending. This is purely for economic reasons, as the empire's mounting debts threaten to weaken it. However, other changes in policy are more directly a result of political pressure, which is why we have been building up opposition in Mauritius to the US base on Diego Garcia as a political priority. On January 13, 2011 the New York Times has now announced that the USA is stepping down from its high horse and conceding to the Japanese request to relocate one of its bases on Okinawa. You will remember that in 2009, the Prime Minister elect, Mr. Hatoyama, stepped down after being unable to keep his promise of getting the Futenma base on Okinawa closed down. Now, less than two years later, the USA is not strong enough to maintain its dictate, but still strong enough to be attempting to put militarist conditions on its withdrawal.

Here are the relevant excerpts from the New York Times article.

Title of article: U.S. Will Defer To Japan On Moving Okinawa Base
Journalists: Martin Fackler and Elisabeth Bumiller

Tokyo - Striking a conciliatory tone on an issue that has divided Japan and the United States, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said on Thursday that the Obama administration would follow Tokyo's lead in working to relocate an American air base on Okinawa.

However, a top item on the agenda was the relocation of the United States Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, an emotional issue here that drove an uncharacteristic wedge between the two allies last year when former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama wavered on whether to keep the base on Okinawa.

While the two nations finally agreed in May to relocate the noisy helicopter base to a less populated part of Okinawa by 2014, local resistance has made that time frame look increasingly unrealistic.

On Thursday, Mr. Gates said the administration did not want the Futenma issue to overshadow the overall security alliance with Japan, which last year marked its 50th anniversary. He also signaled that the United States was willing to be flexible in allowing Tokyo to resolve the domestic political resistance to the relocation plan.

"We do understand that it is politically a complex matter in Japan," Mr. Gates said after meeting Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa. "And we intend to follow the lead of the Japanese government in working with the people of Okinawa to take their interests and their concerns into account."

The softer tone marks a departure from Mr. Gates's visit to Tokyo in October 2009, when he strongly pushed the then fledgling government of Mr. Hatoyama to honor an earlier agreement to relocate the base on Okinawa. Those pressure tactics backfired, creating resentment in the new government that the United States was trying to bully it.

Mr. Hatoyama eventually stepped down amid criticism for mishandling the alliance with the United States. His successor, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has worked to strengthen security ties with Tokyo's traditional protector.

On Thursday, Mr. Gates and Mr. Kitazawa also discussed one of the two nations' largest joint projects, the development of an advanced new missile system that will be fired from ships to intercept larger ballistic missiles while in midflight.

Washington wants to be able to sell the sophisticated system, known as the SM-3, to other nations, possibly including South Korea. However, that would require Japan to rewrite its current tight restrictions on weapons exports, which have been a pillar of the nation's post-World War II pacifism.

While Mr. Gates said Washington hoped to defray development costs by exporting the system, he was aware that this was a sensitive matter in Japan.

"It makes economic sense to make it available to others," Mr. Gates said of the new missile interceptor. "But we understand there are certain processes that have to be gone through here."

Mr. Kan has called for a public debate on revising the restrictions, which many Japanese see as necessary to advance closer security cooperation with the United States in responding to China and Norh Korea.