Robert Gates on Futenma issue: "We will follow the lead of the Japanese government" - completely ignored by Japanese media
Jan. 13, 2011
Even though US Secretary of Defense said the US "will follow the lead of the Japanese government" twice in the joint press conference with Japanese Defense Minister Kitazawa on January 13 (see Deparment of Defense transcript of the joint press conference), most, if not all, of the Japanese media ignored it, and on the contrary, most of them reported Gates' talks Kitazawa, Prime Minister Kan, and with Foreign Minister Maehara, as if Gates was adamant about the "package" deal: that the reduction of base burden for Okinawa and US marine transfer to Guam would occur on the condition of the construction of a replacement base in Henoko. But nowhere in the official records of what Gates said indicate that he said such things. On the other hand, New York Times reported Gates-Kitazawa conference with headline "US will Defer to Japan on Moving Okinawa Base," stressing on the "conciliatory tone" of Gates. This is another example, among many, of how the Japanese government and media tend to exaggerate, or even make up the "US pressure" for building an additional US military base in Okinawa, to reinforce the image in the minds of people in Japan that it is necessary to build a new base in Okinawa in order to sustain the Japan-US alliance. It is their way to use the "US pressure" to justify the industry's profit from military-buildup, and to continue the discriminatory policy to impose most of the military base burden on Okinawans, as sacrifice for sustaining Anpo (Japan-US Security Treaty).
Joint Press Conference with Secretary Gates and Minister Kitazawa from Tokyo, Japan
Q: Yesterday, I think you mentioned that you will delink the common strategic objectives that you’re working on with the Japanese side and the issue of Guam, and I wonder where you place the Futenma relocation issue in this context.
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, as I mentioned in my opening statement, we read a lot about Okinawa and Futenma relocation, but the alliance is broader than this. And I think what I said in China was that I felt that after – since the last common strategic objectives had been put together in – agreed in 2005, that clearly events in the meantime indicated the importance and the value of updating that document. And I think that is independent of the Futenma issue.
By the same token, the realignment roadmap is important. We do understand that it is politically a complex matter in Japan 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, and that obviously needs to happen.
By the same token, I would just underscore the benefits to the people of Okinawa of the realignment roadmap. Thousands and thousands of United States Marines and their dependents will depart the island. Significant land and facilities will return to the people of Okinawa. The U.S. presence will be less visible on the island. So there are very real benefits to people of Okinawa in this realignment roadmap. And as I say, we will work with the Japanese government and follow their lead as we work our way through this to make progress.
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See also the below
January 13, 2011 NYT
Gates Signals U.S. Is Flexible On Moving Air Base in Japan
(* Thanks to Mr. Lee Haeng-Woo)
New York Times
U.S. Will Defer To Japan On Moving Okinawa Base
Martin Fackler and Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, January 13, 2011
(* Thanks to Joseph Gerson on Jan. 13, 2011)