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The Importance of a Significant American Presence in Japan

The 1960 signing of The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America had defined the defense policies between the two nations, particularly, on the commitment of the United States to aid in defense of Japan during times of war, and on related circumstances wherein there exists a clear danger on this respect.

George Packard’s article, The United States-Japan Security Treaty at 50: Still a Grand Bargain, delved not only on this issue, but also on the circumstantial factors that had played a significant role in the passing of decades since its conception, based on the decisions taken by the succeeding American Presidents, their appointed delegates, and their Japanese counterparts, that proved to be essential aspects for the prevailing relationship between the two global economic powers.

It is most evident that both nations have benefited from the treaty. For the United States, it was able to secure a promulgated and legally-binding promise that Japan would be restrained of the political agendas that it had promoted during the Second World War. This was especially evident in Packard’s explication, that Japan would “never to maintain land, sea, and air forces as well as other war potential” (Packard, 2010, p. 93).

Likewise, this treaty offered for the United States a justification for maintaining military bases off-shore at a reasonable price, as Japan had to agree to the presence of about 260,000 military personnel “at more than 2,800 bases across the country” (Packard, 2010, p. 93). For Japan, the aforementioned treaty presented advantages that were hard to decline. Other than the most apparent benefit of being able to focus more of their capabilities on economic recovery programs, “Japan would recover its independence, gain security…from the most powerful nation…and win access to the U. S. market for its products” (Packard, 2010, p. 93).

In a gist, the treaty of 1960 had given the Japanese nation a chance to rely on the military might of the United States while they concentrate their efforts towards economic nation-building, especially since they were still reeling from the economic collapse brought about by their adventurism in the Second World War. Contemporary Crises Perhaps due to some inauspicious dealings that seemed to favor the United States, several sectors in the Japanese society are clamoring for a revision of the 1960 accord.

More significant than the noise pollution that the air force base in Okinawa creates, or even in the unfortunate incident of a 12-year old gang rape by three military service men, these legislations have resulted in the complete reversal on the Japanese perception of the American military presence in their nation. More so, the findings made public by the panel designated by Prime Minister Hatoyama exposing “that since 1960, successive Japanese governments have lied to the Japanese people” (Packard, 2010, p. 98) had proven the general perception of the Japanese being intentionally deceived in their dealings with the American government.

However, Packard seemed to be accurate in his conviction that both governments should find a lasting solution to their indifferences, especially since contemporary conditions in the Asia-Pacific region calls for a stronger presence of a military superpower, such as the United States is. If the recent Nuclearization attempts by North Korea, China and Iran, plus the more recent sinking of a South Korean warship by their Northern counterparts would be sufficient bases for America’s presence in the region, then indeed at least a considerable force ought to remain.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s intention of revising the long-standing treaty, particularly in completely eliminating the presence of American military forces during peacetime, is truly noble if only the prevailing conditions can assure a lasting and unconditional peace. However, based on the actions taken by several neighboring countries in the Asian region, it seems that the time has not yet arrived for its implementation. Reference Packard, G. R. (2010). The United States-Japan Security Treaty at 50: Still a Grand Bargain? Foreign Affairs, 89:2, 91-103.

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