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Big Brother USA

Tuesday, September 7, 2004 Posted: 03:26 PM JST

PBS Documentary The Weekly Post complains this week about Japan's "subordinate position to the US government". When a US military transportation helicopter crashed into the campus of Okinawa International University on August 13, Japanese police were basically brushed to the side and not allowed to investigate. Even US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is embarrassed by this. He calls this lack of communication "The worst moment" of the past few years. Yet, Japanese government officials and the Japanese media hardly voice any anger over this disregard of national jurisdiction.

The Asahi criticized Prime Minister Koizumi's slow action, but other newspapers only criticized the incident itself. In a way it is as if Okinawa is still under the occupation of the US military forces. Okinawans are very much aware of this. Okinawa's largest local newspaper, the Ryukyu Shinpo, has been publishing a series of articles exposing a secret document contained in the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement. According to the Weekly Post the articles basically show that "the agreement is based on the principle that the Japanese government is in a subordinate position to the US government".

So far, none of the major newspapers in Japan has really picked up on the story, even though it was given an award by the Japan Conference of Journalists recently. One wonders what this says about the role of the Japanese media and the American influence over Japan's international and national policies.

Keywords: national_news politics international relations

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2 comments so far post your own

1 | At 07:15pm on Nov 01 2004, Shalom wrote:
I recall a similiar incident where a US Navy helicopter had to land on a local beach. In this case also, local police were not allowed near the helicopter. The local police role was limited to keeping the local citizenry at a distance from the helicopter. I do not believe, however, that it was due to the local government being held in a "subordinate" position to the US Government. You see, this happened in Jacksonville, Florida. My understanding is sinply that the security of the property, i.e. the US Navy helicopter, is the responsibility of the US Navy.
2 | At 10:28pm on Nov 01 2004, Kjeld Duits wrote:
Shalom, thanks for your comment. The two situations are completely different. In the incident that you mentioned, the helicopter landed. On a beach. The helicopter in Okinawa crashed. On a usually crowded university campus. The police must investigate to determine responsibility and cause. Additionally, Okinawa is part of Japan, not the USA. There is no state of war between the two countries. Japanese laws and sovereignty rule.
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