U.S. Forces Japan Misrepresents Base Presence in Okinawa

On June 23, 2016, U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) posted a “USFJ Fact of the Week” to its Facebook page, with the following claim: “It is often said that 75 percent or more of all American military facilities in Japan are located on Okinawa. This is a misrepresentation of the facts. In fact, 39% of US exclusive use facilities and 49% of total SOFA-members reside in Okinawa.”

In the first place, the oft-cited statistic is that in terms of area, Okinawa hosts 74% of bases in Japan used exclusively by the United States. In other words, Okinawa alone accounts for 74% of the area occupied by US exclusive use facilities in Japan. That’s a mouthful, so it isn’t always stated with absolute precision, but USFJ can hardly fail to be aware of what it means. After all, the number of bases is clearly inadequate as a measure of the burden they impose on a locality: one huge base has more impact than two small ones.

In playing the fool and propagating the 39% figure, “U.S. forces apparently want to downplay Okinawa’s burden so that it does not look as great as reported,” observed Sato Manabu, professor of international politics at Okinawa International University.

Moreover, USFJ omitted the crucial fact that usually accompanies the 74% number: Okinawa has just 0.6% of Japan’s total area. Without this, it’s impossible to understand the grossly disproportionate burden of bases on Okinawa.

On top of everything else, USFJ chose the very day that Okinawans remember the lives lost in the Battle of Okinawa to engage in its propaganda. Fact of the week? More like misrepresentation of the week.

This is #1 in a series of “Futenma Falsehoods, Henoko Hanky-panky”. See more here.


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