Playing Base Politics in a Global Strategic Theater: Futenma Relocation, the G-8 Summit, and Okinawa
In late 1995, a culmination of events on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa, home to over 70 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan, both threatened the future of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and posed a direct challenge to the contradictory legacies of Japan's postwar system of constitutional democracy. Almost five years later, in July 2000, in anticipation of the gathering of heads of state at the Okinawa 2000 G-8 Summit, Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit the island in over forty years. Speaking at the Cornerstone of Peace, a monument built in memory of the only ground war fought on Japanese soil between Japanese and U.S. forces in World War II, Clinton reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance — and Okinawa's role within it — to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet in Okinawa the nature and constitution of peace itself has never been a political given. This article traces the politics surrounding the U.S. military presence over this period, delving into the deeper historical, political, and social issues at stake for both this small island prefecture and for parts of the world beyond.