Huge Demonstrations Against U.S. Military Bases in Japan

June 22, 2016

Over 60,000 people rallied on Okinawa and the Japanese mainland on one single day in late June to demand the destruction of American military bases positioned in Japan. 

These demonstrations were the largest in a series of similar protests organized there. 

Besides exposing that they are destroying the local economy and burdening Japanese taxpayers, one of the other exposures of the movement is that the military bases heighten the war danger facing the people. So too, it weighs on the Japanese people whose lives and dignity are trampled underfoot.

Today, nearly 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, anchoring the aggressive U.S. strategy of “forward” deployment, menacing the peoples of the region and serving as a base not only for reconnaissance but as a launching pad for intervention throughout the region. Altogether over 100,000 U.S. troops are permanently based in Asia while U.S. naval forces prowl the seas. U.S. military forces in Japan and Asia include a large nuclear capability.

According to the U.S. “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, sovereignty is not an absolute right and nations forfeit aspects of their sovereignty when they “fail to protect” their populations from “hate crimes” and “human rights violations.” 

When Obama and U.S. imperialism declare that absolute sovereignty is obsolete, this is going against one of the great motive forces of the contemporary era. The recognition of the sovereignty of nations and the equality of the peoples is a verdict written with the blood and struggle of hundreds of millions of people in the colonial countries. We live in an era in which the oppressed peoples everywhere – in the Philippines and Indonesia, in Vietnam and Korea, in Cuba and Nicaragua, in China and India, across the whole of Africa and the Middle East – have stood up and are fighting for their liberation. National sovereignty, the independence and equality of all peoples, the liberation of the oppressed is not something given the people by the British or American colonists, nor is it something any imperialist superpower can take away. It is something the peoples themselves have asserted and fought for. It is a struggle, a demand, which arises from the very humanity of the people and a practical problem taken up for solution. 

The American people have no choice but to be political. The U.S. military aims to preposition its forces so that it has the capacity to rapidly intervene in literally every corner of the globe. In Japan and South Korea, such “forward deployment” of troops has for decades been a key to projecting “superpower” influence. Especially today when the Asian market is undergoing tremendous growth, and U.S. multinationals are desperate to maximize their trade and investment “freedoms” in the region.

The struggle is not about the American military having the so-called “right” to gratitude for its presence in Japan. It is about the rights of the Japanese people. 

The Workers Party supports the demand of the Japanese people for all American bases to be closed there. This demand also coincides with a Democratic Foreign Policy which puts an end to all U.S. interference and aggression against other countries, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad, ends U.S. participation in aggressive military alliances and which recognizes the sovereign equality of all nations. We call on all people of good will to join in supporting the demand for the closure of the bases.