A New York Times editorial from January 22, 2016 references “U.S. Bases in Okinawa: What Must Be Done, and Quickly,” a report by Sasakawa USA Chairman Admiral Dennis C. Blair and Sasakawa Fellow James Kendall as “new thinking that could potentially reduce the friction and pry the [Okinawa] plan out of its political vise.”
The editorial references difficulties that have been faced in Okinawa and the current process of relocating facilities and forces stationed in Okinawa to new bases being built on Hawaii and Guam. The Sasakawa USA report recommends speeding up construction efforts that will allow for this relocation, and in doing so preserve the U.S.-Japan Alliance that has been strained by an increasingly caustic political situation.
“Most of all the report stresses a critical point,” states the New York Times editorial. “For the two allies, Okinawa, the part of Japan most exposed to the disputed region of the East China Sea where China is flexing its muscles, is a vital link for security. But the allies have little hope of retaining popular support for the base unless they do more to help local communities thrive. The report says that requires some ‘quick wins,’ like developing housing at the Futenma site to demonstrate the benefits that can come when military bases are returned to civilian uses.”