Mr. Bill Clinton

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Fax: (202) 456-2883 (4 pages)

 

Mr. William S. Cohen

Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon

Washington, D.C.

Fax: (703) 697-8299 (4 pages)

 

Senators and Representatives

U. S. Congress

Washington, D.C.

 

Dear President Clinton, Secretary Cohen, and Members of Congress:

 

We are writing out of profound concern that the continued

stationing of the United States 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa poses

serious risks to the interests and security of our nation. Our conclusion

is the result of an intensive study of military, political, and economic

issues, and an ongoing survey of public opinion in Japan and the United

States. We have concluded that (1) this Marine division is not needed in

Okinawa to maintain national security, to defend Japan, or to foster

stability in the region; and (2) its continued deployment in Okinawa has

negative effects on Japan's governing coalition-pro-American and supportive

of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty-which endanger the Security Treaty and

our overall relations with that country.

 

The recent series of ugly incidents involving Marines in Okinawa,

including the 1995 rape of a twelve-year-old girl, the accidental dumping

of a 1,000 pound bomb off the main port, and the mistaken firing of 1,520

uranium-cased shells in nearby waters, represent only the tip of an iceberg

that threatens to chill our relations with a vital ally. Resentment in

Japan is fueled by other crimes involving Marines in Okinawa, frequent

vehicle and helicopter accidents, traffic tie-ups caused by convoys,

constant noise from Marine aircraft that disturbs local residents and

interrupts classes in public schools, live-fire artillery drills that cause

fires on the outskirts of villages as well as other environmental damage,

and the continued occupation of vast areas of land in this small island

prefecture by 3rd Marine Division bases and exercise areas.

 

Below is a summary of responses, based on our research, to the

three most commonly stated reasons for the continued deployment of the 3rd

Marine Division in Okinawa:

 

(1.) This lightly equipped and largely untransportable division cannot

possibly function in a crisis as the "quick-reaction force" it is often

advertised to be.

 

The United States Navy does not have in-theater sealift capacity to

move this division from Okinawa to "forward areas" such as South Korea or

the Middle East. During an emergency in Korea or the Middle East, most of

the Marines in Okinawa today would be left stranded there as troops in

exile. A realistic compromise would be to retain the 31st MEU (Marine

Expeditionary Unit) of approximately 2,000 personnel in Okinawa and move

the other Marine units to Hawaii or Guam.

 

(2.) With strong and healthy allies in East Asia, the 3rd Marine Division is

not needed and does not function to deter potential adversaries from

military adventures.

 

Since Russia and China have opened diplomatic relations with South

Korea, North Korea has become virtually isolated and is on the verge of

economic collapse. South Korea's GNP is almost twenty times larger than

the North's and its population is twice as large.

 

Contrary to widespread perceptions in the United States, Chinese

conventional military power is declining. The numbers of China's combat

aircraft, submarines, surface ships, and army personnel have all decreased

in recent years, and the obsolescence of its equipment is obvious. Some

modernization of forces has been attempted, but the pace has been slower

than that of Taiwan, South Korea, or Japan. For example, since the early

1990s China has imported only 48 Su-27 fighter aircraft from Russia, but it

must soon retire some 4,500 old fighters, mostly MiG17s, MiG19s, and

MiG21s. The two "Kilo class" submarines China purchased from Russia cannot

possibly replace 60 obsolete submarines in their fleet. Increasing fiscal

deficits and lack of central authority in China, even over local military

commanders, are continuing obstacles to this modernization program.

 

(3.) The financial support provided by the Japanese government for

maintaining the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa is increasingly resented by

Japanese taxpayers, especially in Okinawa, and does not justify its

continued deployment there.

 

Public opinion surveys indicate that about two-thirds of the Japanese

people want to maintain the U.S-Japan Security Treaty, but approximately

the same proportion want the U.S. military presence reduced. A poll

conducted by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun and published on May 15, 1996,

indicated 70% favoring the alliance and 69% wanting U.S. bases reduced.

 

The Governor of Hawaii and the Congressman from Guam have both

expressed their desire to host the Marines in their localities. One

regiment of the 3rd Marine Division is already stationed in Hawaii, though

the divisional headquarters is in Okinawa. Moving the headquarters, the

one infantry regiment, and one artillery battalion from Okinawa to Hawaii

would improve the overall command and control structure of the 3rd Marine

Division. The Governor of Okinawa has offered to help finance any

redeployment to Hawaii or Guam.

 

Lacking a rationale for its continued deployment, the problems

associated with the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa put the U.S.-Japan

Security Treaty at risk, threatening the maintenance of truly vital

military facilities in Japan, such as the ports for American Naval vessels

at Yokosuka and Sasebo. The situation is particularly urgent now as

resentment of the continuing presence of Marines in Okinawa is complicating

the Japanese government's efforts to extend the law which permits U.S.

bases on Japanese soil. Some 3,000 leases concluded under the current law

expire May 14 on land which includes military runways at Kadena Air Force

Base, the largest and busiest U.S. air base in Asia, and portions of eleven

other U.S. installations in Okinawa. With landowners refusing voluntarily

to renew their leases in protest, a political crisis is looming that

threatens maintenance of U.S. bases, and could bring a coalition to power

in Tokyo less favorably disposed to the Security Treaty and less friendly

to U.S. interests generally. Current leaders of both the ruling and

opposition parties have indicated that a U.S. commitment to withdraw

Marines from Okinawa would make it possible for them to support an

extension of the lease law needed to maintain the U.S.-Japan Security

Treaty.

 

We strongly urge you to support redeployment of the 3rd Marine

Division from Okinawa.

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Chalmers Johnson

for himself and the undersigned

 

 

 

This letter is joined in by:

 

 

 

Dr. K. Amemiya, Del Mar, California

Japan Policy Research Institute

 

Dr. Hans Baerwald, Blue Oaks Ranch, California

Professor Emeritus, Japanese Politics, UCLA

 

Dr. Herbert P. Bix, Boston Massachusetts

Lecturer, Japanese History, Harvard University

 

Dr. Bruce Cumings, Evanston, Illinois

Director, Center for International and Comparative Studies, Northwestern

University

 

Dr. Norma Field, Chicago, Illinois

Professor of East Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago

 

Dr. Andrew Gordon, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University

 

Dr. Terry MacDougall, Kyoto, Japan

Stanford University

 

Dr. Margaret McKeon, Durham, North Carolina

Professor of Political Science, Duke University

 

Dr. Michael Mochizuki, Washington D.C.

Brookings Institution

 

Dr. Michael Molasky, New London, Connecticut

Professor of Japanese, Connecticut College

 

Mr. Richard W. Ormsby, Chicago, Illinois

President, Ormsby International, Veteran, 3rd Marine Division (Okinawa)

 

Dr. Steve Rabson, Providence, Rhode Island

Professor of Japanese, Brown University

 

Mr. Patrick Smith, Norfolk, Connecticut

Author of Japan: A Reinterpretation (1997)

 

Dr. Koji Taira, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Professor of Economics, University of Illinois

 

Dr. Meredith Woo-Cumings, Evanston, Illinois

Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chalmers Johnson

President, Japan Policy Research Institute

E-mail: cjohnson@ucsd.edu

Fax: (619) 944-9022