By Ryukyu Shimpo, 12/16/2011
Barney Frank, a leading Democratic Congressman was quoted in the U.S. magazine “Foreign Affairs” (December issue) as saying, “I do think we could remove the Marines from Okinawa; whose only purpose has been to destabilize Japanese politics, so when the first alternative government to the conservative regime got elected, we caused them trouble.” He is known to have advocated the withdrawal of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa.
The remarks of such an influential congressman, who also suggested that the Marines in Okinawa are a factor destabilizing Japanese politics, may serve to intensify the debate over the necessity of the U.S. Marine Corps being stationed in Okinawa.
The Foreign Affairs Magazine reported on the keynote lecture delivered by Frank, and the question and answers with him, at the Council on Foreign Relations on November 14 in New York.
Regarding the strategic objective of the Marines in Okinawa, Frank said, “I mean, they don’t know what — so I guess the strategic purpose we’re told is we have to contain China. And I think we overdo that.” He questioned to the need for Marines being stationed in Okinawa, stating, “Again, I do not think that China is prepared to commit economic suicide by shutting down the sea lanes.” In addition, with regard to the U.S. military presence in Asia, he suggested that there is a legitimate strategic interest in deterring North Korea and in providing Taiwan with some assurance, but he added, saying, “I think the current presence is at least as much as we need, maybe a little more .”
With regard to the new Hatoyama administration’s policy which had the place for the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to be outside the prefecture or out of the country, he said, “One of the biggest problems they had was that they had promised to ask America to leave Okinawa, and the American government refused and very much destabilized that government.” This leading congressman suggested, “I think if we did it in the right way and noted the 7th Fleet was still there, that they might be a little bit upset but it would certainly have no negative consequence on us.”
Frank has a strong influence on the U.S. government’s monetary policy. To look for more ways to trim the military budget, in May 2010 Frank set up “The Sustainable Defense Task Force” convened by a bipartisan group in Congress, and identified nearly $1 trillion in potential cuts, including a reduction plan for U.S. forces in Asia over the next decade. In July that same year, he adopted the stance that the Marines being stationed in Okinawa is unnecessary. “We don’t need 15,000 marines in Okinawa – they’re a hangover from a war that ended 65 years ago,” Frank says.
(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)