Tbe Okinauan Issue in Japanese Politics
Mil filial Dm
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THESSUE IN JAPANESE POLITICS
Tht growth of irredentist sentiment towardwithin all Japanese political parties ia reflected in the Sato government's gropingesponsive but responsible policy toward reversion of the US-adminls-tered Ryukyu Islands to Japan. Growing national pride andesentment that nearly one million ethnic Japanese in the Ryukyus have remained under alienfor overears account for the rising emphasis on this issue. The government recognizes theof tho US bases to Par Eastern security and is beginning to study the feasibility of acquiringrights in the islands while preserving the viability of US bases. It may try to negotiate the problem with the US this year or next in order to settle it and keep the subject out of the publicover the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty when tho treaty is subject to review
The US, in accord with the concept of residual sovereignty, has recognised Japan's ultimate claims to its prewar prefecture of Okinawa. The US maintains that the reversion to Japan of these islands is contingent on the relaxation of tensions in the Far East sufficient to make US bases unnecessary. As the self-confidence, national pride, and ambition of the Japanese grow, so does their impatience with the lack of clear progress toward their final goal of reversion. Articulate Japanese are askingchedule of tangible They considor this only consistent with Japan's place in the world and with Its allianceartner of the US.
The reversion problem has drawn noticeably more attention since Prime Minister Sato visited Okinawa in At that time, he declared that theera would not be over until Okinawa was returned to Japan. Sato's statement was hailed in both Okinawa and in Japan, and he is constantly being reminded of it. The use made of the reversion issue by all political parties, by the press, and on occasion byofficials anxious totheir patriotism, testifies to the depth of sentiment on this subject.
For tho moot part, theGovernment has tried to control rising public expectations about recovering Okinawa in the near future. At the same time politics
compels the Sato administration to show its "sincerity" by at least championing pro forma steps which can be interpreted astowards reversion. ubstantial record both in securing US concurrenceapidly expanding program of Japanese financial and technical aid to the Ryukyus, and inUS moves to grantreater degree of self-government. The mainlandtend to view aid andas but two aspects of aneffort to reintegrate Okinawa with Japan. Of great Symbolic significance to thehas been the government's success this year in winningfor displaying the Rising Sun flag--albeit beneath alabelledOki-niwan vessels.
Party Positions on Reversion
Many members of Sato'sLiberal Democratic Partyhile taking all the credit they can for suchare beginning to feel that the time is about over forpalliatives which do not solve the basic desire toa firm date for reversion. Far more than any of its rivals, the LDP recognizes the value of the US bases and is beginning to face up to the problems ofthem. In the past, the LDP rank and file was content toradual increase of Japan's role in the Ryukyus, hoping that the US requirement for the bases would soon end. Under growing popular pressure for action, however, the LDP is
Japanese administration of thebut allow the US freedom to use its bases there.
beginning to consider possible8 rangements which would providelbllll^-ISVrs
To date the LDP has not openly advocatedompromise. It Is
unwillingness to have Japan com- rs
raitted in any way to
party advocated takiKd "verof the Ryukyus while the bases remain, it would be open to charges of flouting the "no-war clause" of the Japanese The LDP is well aware that national sentimentolution to the Okinawan problem. Party leaders, however, appear hopeful that growing publicof Japan's international position will resolve the dilemma in the context of Japan's defense role in the Far East.
All the opposition parties, led by the Japan Socialist Partyhe chief opposition force.
laveincers movement in current Diet debates seeking to trao the LDPdo-nothing" stand on reversionosition which they could claim would open the way for the nuclearization of Japan.
The JSP demands the immediate unconditional return of the All military bases there
would be excluded, even any under the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, which the party considers Tho Socialiststhat tho bases invite hostile attack on Japan, Involve Japan in us strategy in Southeast Asia, and might drag Japan into warthe security treaty. The party has already launched ato terainato the treatynd regards the revecsionist movement as the critical lever in that castpaign.
Anti-Americanism hasrincipal theme of the JSP since the early postwar years andthe party's appeal tonationalism on the Okinawan issue. The JSP's recent display of patriotic wrath over incidents of alleged dosacration of the Rising Sun flag in Okinawathis approach.
Along more traditionallines, the JSP stresses the "colonial" exploitation ofby US "capitalist It plays up tha economic and social disparity between Japan and Okinawa to prove how far the Ryukyuans are laggingthe motherland.
with the exception of the communists, who try to outdo the socialists in attacking the US, the small opposition parties make little use of anti-Americanism on the Okinawan issue. TheDemocratic Party hich does not demand thetermination of tho security treaty, is not committed toabolition of US bases in Okinawa and might tolerate them
:uny recognises the force of awakening Japanese nationalism. The Seamen's Union, the chiefof DSP's trade union fired the opening gun in the campaign to allow Okinawan ships to fly the Rising Sun. This union is competingival trade union federation supporting the Japanese Socialists.
The new Clean Government Party (Komaito), the mouthpiece of the Buddhist Soka Gakkai sect, has thrived on rising nationalism and exploits its reversionist aspects. Theon
interests of its fast-qrowing list of converts on Okinawa, who have been remarkably successful inoloctiona there.
Party Relations With the Ryukyus
All of Japan's parties are involved in one way or another with parties in Okinawa. This onsuras that whenever aissue arises in ono place it is quickly reflected in the other. Only tha LDP, because of itsfor governing Japan, ever uses its influence with the ruling Okinawa Denccratic Party (OOP) to quiet things down. The party is not always successful, even though the ODP, like allgroups, looks to Japan for advice and guidance.
Petitions, testimonials, and delegations of Okinawan politicians are warmly welcomed by partisan
advanced by LDP the government has so far managed to keep ita options open. Each spring during the past three years it has sanctioned private or seraioffIcial visits to the OS by champions of two sets of proposals for partial restoration of administrative riqhta.
Under the first of these plans, certain special functions, such as education and socialwould be aooignod to Japanese administration. This approach was presented informally in the USapanese missionas ospoused by theof the primeofficeisit to Okinawand isbeing presented in greater detailrivate mission to the US led by the headew advisory committee on Okinawa in the prime minister's office. This functional "creepingformula would create ain which the piecemeal return of administrative rights to Japan would progressivelythe US role. Sato's recognition of US opposition to this approach probably persuaded him to throw some cold water on it in the course of his election campaign last January.
The Japanese have also shown interesteographical approach. This called for the return of administrative rights by region, excluding US bases for the time being. act-finding mission to the USutlyingwould be returned to Japan, leaving Okinawa with itsof bases under US This particular scheme has apparently been abandoned, probably because it was fearedartial solution on its lines would prejudice the prospects for the reversion of the majority of the Ryukyuan population, which lives on Okinawa.
To meet such objections and to show its responsiveness, tho government seems to have turned recentlyar moregeographical approach. In February, the vice foreignbluntly stated in public that the only way to recover the"fully" was to assure the US free use of its
posea oy nis sugqostion provokod considerable debate, which, however, was far freer ofhysteria than would have Beentne case even as recentlyear ago. This suggests that the government may soon decide to approach the us to work out some such arrangements.
Recent suggestions would leave the bases in US hands but return the rest of the islands'overercent of theJapan. Responsible Japanesehave been made aware of the Intricate involvement of the bases in most aspects of Oktnawan life, but top leaders may have concluded that some sort ofof the bases represents their only remaining possibility.igh-level meeting in mld-Harch the Foreign Ministrycamo around to the views of the prime minister's office that the principal bases should be left
sponsors in the homeland, thus increasing the pressure upon tho government to "do something" about Okinawa. The government is often embarrassed by the troublesome persistence of the visiting islanders and bygovernment officials wooingOkinawanithout regard for over-allpolicies.
The leftist opposition in Japan has regularly joined the Okinawana in commemoratingDay" onpril, the anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty with the US which left tha Ryukyus under US Marches are held in Japan and Okinawa, and Japanese and Okinawans meet at sea onh parallel, the northern boundary of the US-administeredymbol of "divided Japan."
Government Policy Reappraisal
Stimulated by growingand popular pressures for action, the Sato government has begun to reappraise its stand on reversion, both in preparation for debate on Okinawa in theDiet session and inwith plans for handling the security treaty issue ineginning that year the treaty can be terminated on ono year's notice; otherwise it continues in effect. The left has for several years been preparingepeat of the crisisthe treaty's ratificationnd there is bound to be widespread discussion of tha
treaty even without formal Uiet debate0 approaches.
The political situation in the Ryukyus is another factor at least partly responsible forinterest in reversion. The Ryukyuan legislature has beenever since Pebruarv when mob action blocked consideration of two long-standing bills to curb the political power of the The crisis has caused grave concern for the ODP's fate in the elections schedulad for6 when control of both the legislature and the executive could be lost to strongly1st forces. ew andstance on reversion by the LDP could help its sister party in Naha.
Despite theso current some LOP roversionists seem to be concerned thatfor reunion with themay wane among the rising generation of Okinawans. Apublic opinion survey in Okinawa indicated that strong re-versionist sentiment is largely confined to Okinawans over thirty and that the younger generation moving toward positions ofin the Ryukyus is the least sympathetic to the idea ofountry it has never known. In Japan, some inmanymay wish to seize the present occasion tolan for reversion beforerend weakens Japan's chances.
In the faceariety of proposals for Bolving the Okinawa
direct US administration so Japan could avoid responsibility for US activities in them.
The government probablyafford to vacillate much longer on its approach to the reversion issue. It has bought peace in the present Diet session by acceding to opposition demandsew committee on Okinawa. If the government can show some progress toward reversion, it may be able to head off anand potentiallydebate on relations with the US in general. To this end it will probably seek to openwith the US later this year, or early next year.
The second aspect of the Sato government's efforts to dampen debate on Okinawa is to educate the public on Japan's defense needs in the nuclear-armed world. There are signs that thiscampaign is bearing fruit. For the first time since theirin World War II the Japanese are beginning publicly to consider defense problems realistically.
At the moment, however, this aspect of reviving Japanesenew tendency to consider defenseis weaker than reversionistand it may remain that way. At any time, moreover, an incident on Okinawa might inflamepassions and force theinto direct confrontation
with the us. teaama wa Baamcti