The Impact of the U.S. Military Presence on the Japanese Mainland : A Case Study of the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni <Report>
JIDC_17-2_145.pdf 609 KB
Since 1951, the U.S. military has been responsible for over 200,000 crimes and accidents and the deaths of over one thousand Japanese civilians. Because American personnel are granted partial extraterritorial rights, in most cases, the suspects are never arrested. In addition to the perception of the U.S. military as a danger to public safety, activities such as early morning/late night aviation exercises are viewed by local communities as negatively affecting their quality of life by contributing to noise pollution and environmental degradation. Despite the common assertion among Japanese and U.S. officials that the U.S. military presence in Japan is to help protect Japan, there exist many Japanese protest groups that publicly oppose the U.S. military presence. The Japanese media and press succinctly call this, "the U.S. base problem." Given that much of the "U.S. base problem" literature is focused on Okinawa, this research report aims to take a closer look at Marine Corps Air Base (MCAS) in Iwakuni city. By interviewing 18 anti-Iwakuni base activists living near MCAS Iwakuni, the activist's concerns, sentiments, and personal encounters with U.S. military personnel were understood and documented. The findings indicate that civilian concerns regarding MCAS Iwakuni could be grouped into three major themes (psychological, economical, cultural) and those themes were in turn compared with the civilian concerns documented in Okinawa. While 18 activists are not meant to represent all of Iwakuni city or any of the surrounding districts, they do represent a small but very important cross-section of Iwakuni city, Miyajima, Atadajima, and Hiroshima city. Moreover, their voices represent a side of the U.S. base problem in Iwakuni that is rarely, if ever, presented to the public at large.