Bring Our Marines Home
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Antiwar.com, 2010-02-01

A month after Germany surrendered in May 1945 ([1], [2]),
America’s eyes turned to the Far East,
where the bloodiest battle of the Pacific war was joined
on the island of Okinawa.
Twelve thousand U.S. soldiers and Marines would die –
twice as many dead in 82 days of fighting
as have died in all the years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Within weeks of the battle’s end came Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Three weeks later,
Gen. MacArthur took the Japanese surrender on the battleship Missouri.

That was 65 years ago, as far away in time from today
as the Marines’ arrival at Da Nang was from
Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill.

Yet the Marines are still on Okinawa.
But, in 2006, the United States negotiated
a $26 billion deal to move 8,000 to Guam and the other Marines
from the Futenma air base in the south
to the more isolated town of Nago on the northern tip.
Okinawans have long protested the crime, noise, and pollution at Futenma.

The problem arose last year when
the Liberal Democratic Party that negotiated the deal was ousted
and the Democratic Party of Japan elected on
a promise to pursue a policy more balanced between Beijing and Washington.
The new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama,
indicated his unease with the Futenma deal,
and promised to review it and decide by May.
Voters in Nago just elected a mayor committed to keeping the new base out.

This weekend,
thousands demonstrated in Tokyo against moving the Marine air station to Nago.
Some demanded removal of all U.S. forces from Japan.
After 65 years, they want us out.
And Prime Minister Hatoyama has been feeding the sentiment.
In January, he terminated
Japan’s eight-year mission refueling U.S. ships aiding in the Afghan war effort.

All of which raises a question.
If Tokyo does not want Marines on Okinawa, why stay?
And if Japanese regard Marines as a public nuisance,
rather than a protective force,
why not remove the irritant and bring them home?

Indeed, why are we still defending Japan?
She is no longer the ruined nation of 1945,
but the second-largest economy on earth
and among the most technologically advanced.
The Sino-Soviet bloc against which we defended her in the Cold War
dissolved decades ago.
The Soviet Union no longer exists.
China is today a major trading partner of Japan.
Russia and India have long borders with China,
but neither needs U.S. troops to defend them.
Should a clash come between China and Japan
over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea,
why should that involve us?

Comes the retort:
American troops are in Japan to defend South Korea and Taiwan.

But South Korea has a population twice that of the North,
an economy 40 times as large,
access to the most advanced weapons in the U.S. arsenal,
and a U.S. commitment to come to her defense by air and sea
in any second Korean War.
And if there is a second Korean War,
why should the 28,000 U.S. troops still in Korea, many on the DMZ,
or Marines from Futenma have to fight and die?
Is South Korea lacking for soldiers?
Seoul, too,
has been the site of anti-American demonstrations demanding we get out.

Why do we Americans seem more desperate to defend these countries
than their people are to have us defend them?
Is letting go of the world we grew up in so difficult?

Consider Taiwan.
On his historic trip to Beijing in 1972,
Richard Nixon [37] agreed Taiwan was part of China.
Jimmy Carter [39] recognized Beijing as the sole legitimate government.
Ronald Reagan [40] committed us to cut back arms sales to Taiwan.

Yet, last week, we announced a $6.4 billion weapons sale
to an island we agree is a province of China.
Beijing, whose power is a product of the trade deficits we have run,
is enraged that we are arming the lost province
she is trying to bring back to the motherland.

Is it worth a clash with China
to prevent Taiwan from assuming the same relationship to Beijing
the British acceded to with Hong Kong?
In tourism, trade, travel, and investment,
Taiwan is herself deepening her relationship with the mainland.
Is it not time for us to cut the cord?


With the exception of the Soviet Union,
few nations in history have suffered
such a relative decline in power and influence
as the United States in the last decade.

We are tied down in two wars,
are universally disliked,
and are running back-to-back deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product,
as our debt is surging to 100 percent of GDP.

A strategic retreat from Eurasia to our own continent and country is inevitable.
Let it begin by graciously acceding to Japan’s request
we remove our Marines from Okinawa
and politely inquiring
if they wish us to withdraw U.S. forces from the Home Islands, as well.

[I heartily agree with Buchanan’s suggestion.
Is it not interesting that Buchanan’s ideas, on almost all policy matters,
make far more sense than the consensus of the ruling political/media “elite”?
What a price America pays for
the blackballing of people on the basis of their political incorrectness
(in Buchanan’s case,
his call for culture war at the 1992 Republican Convention [1], [2]).

Note, by the way,
that what Buchanan recommends is an example of “offshore balancing”.]

Okinawa and the Problem of Empire
by Doug Bandow
The Huffington Post, 2010-03-25


The Myth of Japan’s Failure
New York Times Review, 2012-01-08


Economic ideology has also played an unfortunate role. Many economists, particularly right-wing think-tank types, are such staunch advocates of laissez-faire that they reflexively scorn Japan’s very different economic system, with its socialist medicine and ubiquitous government regulation. During the stock market bubble of the late 1980s, this mind-set abated but it came back after the crash.

Japanese trade negotiators noticed an almost magical sweetening in the mood in foreign capitals after the stock market crashed in 1990. Although previously there had been much envy of Japan abroad (and serious talk of protectionist measures), in the new circumstances American and European trade negotiators switched to feeling sorry for the “fallen giant.” Nothing if not fast learners, Japanese trade negotiators have been appealing for sympathy ever since.

The strategy seems to have been particularly effective in Washington. Believing that you shouldn’t kick a man when he is down, chivalrous American officials have largely given up pressing for the opening of Japan’s markets. Yet the great United States trade complaints of the late 1980s — concerning rice, financial services, cars and car components — were never remedied.

The “fallen giant” story has also even been useful to other East Asian nations, particularly in their trade diplomacy with the United States.

A striking instance of how the story has influenced American perceptions appears in “The Next 100 Years,” by the consultant George Friedman. In a chapter headed “China 2020: Paper Tiger,” Mr. Friedman argues that, just as Japan “failed” in the 1990s, China will soon have its comeuppance. Talk of this sort powerfully fosters complacency and confusion in Washington in the face of a United States-China trade relationship that is already arguably the most destructive in world history and certainly the most unbalanced.

Clearly the question of what has really happened to Japan is of first-order geopolitical importance. In a stunning refutation of American conventional wisdom, Japan has not missed a beat in building an ever more sophisticated industrial base. That this is not more obvious is a tribute in part to the fact that Japanese manufacturers have graduated to making so-called producers’ goods. These typically consist of advanced components or materials, or precision production equipment. They may be invisible to the consumer, yet without them the modern world literally would not exist. This sort of manufacturing, which is both highly capital-intensive and highly know-how-intensive, was virtually monopolized by the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and constituted the essence of American economic leadership.


[This article, written in late 2011,
is really an updating and extension of
Section 2.9, Japan’s “Lost Decade”
of Fingleton’s 2008 book In the Jaws of the Dragon.
Much more on Japan, in particular on the Sino-Japanese relation,
in in Chapter 7 of that book.]


Japanese leader Abe wants more women to work.
So he’s got big plans for day care.

by Anna Fifield
Washington Post, 2014-08-02


Although Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, it is at the low end of most statistical charts when it comes to women in the workplace. The World Economic Forum’s most recent global ­gender-gap report — which tracks economic, political and other disparities — puts Japan in 105th place out of 136 countries, behind nations such as Tajikistan and Cameroon.

New mothers don’t return to jobs outside the home for a number of reasons. Japan’s workplace culture rewards long hours more than results, meaning 18-hour days are not unusual. Many men don’t even attend the births of their children, instead going to the office as on any other work day.

In addition, many Japanese think women should spend at least three years at home after giving birth. And the current tax system effectively punishes households with two working adults.

But a big part of the problem is logistical. How do you go back to work if you can’t find anyone to care for your baby?

Government figures suggest that more than 3 million women in Japan would like to work but cannot, partly because of a lack of child care.


Demographic worries

Japan is sitting on a demographic time bomb: With its low birth rate, the population is on track to shrink 30 percent by 2060, at the same time 40 percent of its citizens will hit old age.

Already, after two “lost decades,” the government is concerned that the economy will not have enough workers to help it grow.

That’s why it wants to close the gap between the number of men and women in the workplace, where male participation is 84 percent, 21 points above that of women.

“If you could equalize this, you could boost GDP by almost 13 percentage points, because you would be adding 7 million-plus workers to the labor pool,” said Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist at Goldman Sachs and the person who coined the term “womenomics.”


[There is another way of looking at these facts.
Are the facts about the Japanese working and family arrangements
part of the reason that Japan has been so successful economically?

And how successful has it been?
It has been pointed out by a real expert on the Japanese economy, Eamonn Fingleton,
that while the Japanese love to suggest that their economy is in trouble,
that may be a ruse to prevent other nations that have a weak trade position vis-a-vis Japan
from putting pressure on Japan to open up its markets.]

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