Why the US Military Presence Remains in Northeast Asia

Ian Buruma a very notable author in regards to Asian affairs had this to say in the New Yorker about the US military presence in South Korea and Japan:

Ian Buruma

The problem is that the existing order, put in place by the United States after the Second World War, might be exactly what hampers efforts to thicken that web. In a sense, America is experiencing the dilemmas typical of an empire in its twilight years. Imperial powers in the middle of the twentieth century used to argue that they couldn’t withdraw as long as their colonial subjects were not ready to rule themselves. But, as the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once explained to a rather baffled William F. Buckley, Jr., the continuance of colonial rule would not make them more ready. If the United States were to give up its policing duties in Asia too quickly, chaos might ensue. The longer its Asian allies remain dependent on U.S. military protection, however, the harder it will be for them to take care of themselves.

The most desirable way to balance the rising power of China would be the creation of a regional defense alliance stretching from South Korea to Burma. Japan, as the leading economic and military power, would be the logical choice to lead such a coalition. This would mean, in an ideal world, that Japan should revise its pacifist constitution after a national debate, led not by a government of chauvinistic revanchists but by a more liberal administration. But we do not live in an ideal world. Abe’s revisionism (he has currently set 2020 as a deadline for the amended constitution) is unlikely to achieve its aims in Japan. Most Japanese are no keener than most Germans to play a major military role once again. And as long as Japanese leaders insist on whitewashing their country’s recent past they will never persuade other countries in the region to trust them.

This is the status quo that dependence on the United States has frozen into place. As much as Abe’s government wishes to remain under the American military umbrella, the American postwar order, including the pacifist constitution, still inflames right-wing resentment. Yet Washington, and especially the Pentagon, which shapes much of U.S. policy in East Asia, has consistently supported conservative governments in Japan, seeing them as an anti-Communist bulwark. Meanwhile, as long as the United States is there to keep the peace, the governments of Japan and South Korea will continue to snipe at each other, instead of strengthening their alliance.  [The New Yorker]

You can read much more at the link, but Buruma’s comments are based on a book he reviewed titled “Avoiding War with China: Two Nations, One World” by Amitai Etzioni.  This analysis seems pretty accurate, does anyone disagree with it?

Refueling Issue Causes Six South Korean F-16’s to Land at Japan’s Yokota Airbase

I wonder if the jets have “Dokdo is Our Land” painted on the side of them 😉  :

Six South Korean F-16 jet fighters have made an emergency landing at a U.S. military base in Tokyo after a refueling aircraft malfunctioned, U.S. Forces Japan officials said Thursday.

U.S. Forces Japan spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth Hoffman said the aircraft are headed to Alaska to participate in the annual Red Flag exercise.

The emergency landing was forced by “a mechanical issue with an air-to-air refueler that was scheduled to support their movement,” Hoffman said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Former Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Publishes Book Titled “I’m Happy Because I’m Not Born Korean”

This book title as expected is not going to go over well in South Korea:

Masatoshi Muto

The former Japanese ambassador to South Korea has stirred controversy with his book titled “I’m happy because I’m not born Korean.”

The book written by Masatoshi Muto will hit Japanese shelves on June 1. It’s uncertain why Muto, once regarded as a pro-Korea Japanese diplomat, penned the controversially titled book, in which he reportedly describes South Korean President Moon Jae-in as “the worst president ever elected in South Korea.”

Recollecting his meeting with Moon, apparently before his May 9 election, Masatoshi wrote, “North Korea was the only thing he (Moon) had in his head,” according to South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, which reviewed the book.

The diplomat also laid bare his acrimony against Moon, calling him a “populist” and saying Moon will push forward with anti-Japan policies if it helps bolster his popularity.  [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but outside of Park Geun-hye hasn’t every Korean politician used anti-Japanese policies to boost their popularity and look where she ended up, in jail and on trial.

Yokota Airbase Worker Injures Japanese Civilian After Drunk Driving Accident

I bet the leadership in USFJ when they heard about this accident probably thought to themselves, at least this accident did not happen on Okinawa:

A Yokota civilian was under the influence of alcohol before the car he was driving crashed into another vehicle, injuring its occupant, Japanese officials said Monday.

A man in his 20s was taken to the hospital after the accident, which happened around 6 p.m. on May 7, a North Kanto Defense Bureau spokesman said. The man sustained minor injuries to his neck, he said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Will President Moon Cancel Comfort Women Agreement with Japan?

If President Moon scraps the comfort women agreement with Japan it will be very interesting to see what the Japanese reaction will be.  It seems to me the Japanese government would be furious if it was to happen considering the political capital Shinzo Abe used to get the deal completed:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday hinted at possibly scrapping an agreement with Tokyo over Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, insisting that most South Koreans could not accept the deal reached by the former Seoul government.

“President Moon noted the reality was that most of his people could not accept the agreement over the sexual slavery issue,” Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said of the president’s telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The conversation came as Abe sought to congratulate the new South Korean leader on his election this week. Moon came into office Wednesday, only one day after winning the presidential by-election caused by the March 10 ouster of his predecessor Park Geun-hye over a massive corruption scandal.

The thorny issue of sexual slavery apparently took center stage of the conversation after the Japanese premier urged the new liberal Seoul government to honor the agreement signed by its conservative predecessor.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Passenger Claims Crazy Guy on Japanese Airline Had PTSD Because He Had Military Tattoos

Just imagine if a stereotype of a minority was said by a passenger to explain some strange episode like the one in the story below.  The Internet outrage would be instantaneous with everyone claiming racism.  When it comes to negatively stereotyping US military servicemembers few seem to care:

Image via NY Daily News.

A fight aboard an All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Narita, Japan to Los Angeles went viral this week after an agitated passenger began throwing punches at another man shortly before takeoff. At the time, it was believed the man was intoxicated. Now, the passenger on the receiving end of the altercation is speaking out. According to Ryan Humphreys, the aggressor may have been suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Humphreys, an ex-Marine, told TMZ by video Wednesday that man, shown in video clips wearing a red patterned shirt, was talking loudly to other passengers before standing up and becoming agitated. Humphreys said he was watching the man before the altercation occurred, but maintained that he hadn’t done anything to initiate the incident.

“I didn’t say anything to the guy and he was like, ‘What are you looking at? I will kill you,’” Humphreys told TMZ. Humphreys said he asked the man if he was okay, to which the man responded by asking him if Humphreys was in Vegas. “It had something to do with Vegas, I don’t know,” Humphreys said.

Humphreys said the man then began assaulting a couple on the plane, allegedly attempting to choke a man and smothering his partner, a woman, in the process.

“He’s either active military or a veteran. When his shirt got ripped up I could [see] all his ink,” he said. “I would guess [he either had] PTSD or maybe off his meds. He didn’t strike me as being drunk.”  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link, but there could be multiple reasons to explain what happened but to just claim the guy is a veteran and must have PTSD just further promotes a poor stereotype about veterans that is not true.  Even more troubling is that the PTSD claim is being thrown around in the media now despite the airline saying this guy was drunk.

You can see video of the fight at this link.

French Carrier Arrives In Japan In Show of Force Against North Korea

It is pretty clear that over the next month enormous pressure is going to be put on North Korea to give up their nuclear and ICBM programs as even the European powers are now deploying military assets into the region:

A French navy ship arrives at the Sasebo naval base in Sasebo, southwestern Japan, on April 29, 2017

France’s Mistral amphibious assault carrier docked in Nagasaki, Japan on April 29 in advance of military exercises to be conducted with the U.K., U.S., and Japan. Nagasaki is the closest major Japanese port to South Korea, and coming at a time of tension on the peninsula, the French and U.K. naval presence sends a strong message to both China and North Korea. Japan’s increased naval activity is also welcome support for South Korea, and will decrease diplomatic tension between the two natural allies. The U.K. and French presence shows that NATO, including the U.S., is strongly behind South Korea.  [Forbes]

You can read more at the link.