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NYT: An Alliance Larger Than One Issue

Author: Joseph S. Nye Jr., Distinguished Service Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
January 6, 2010

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Joseph S. Nye Jr. discusses the U.S. military base in Okinawa and the U.S. alliance with Japan.

Seen from Tokyo, America's relationship with Japan faces a crisis. The immediate problem is deadlock over a plan to move an American military base on the island of Okinawa. It sounds simple, but this is an issue with a long back story that could create a serious rift with one of our most crucial allies.

When I was in the Pentagon more than a decade ago, we began planning to reduce the burden that our presence places on Okinawa, which houses more than half of the 47,000 American troops in Japan. The Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was a particular problem because of its proximity to a crowded city, Ginowan. After years of negotiation, the Japanese and American governments agreed in 2006 to move the base to a less populated part of Okinawa and to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014.

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