Thursday, March 4, 2010

Faleomavaega Uninfluential with Japan, Too

Faleomavaega Uninfluential with Japan, Too

Perhaps Faleomavaega spends so much of his time abroad because he gets the respect there that he has not been shown in Washington. However, it appears he has as little influence in Japan as he does in the U.S.

During the Tokyo stop of his four-nation Asian swing in January, he commented that the feelings of the Okinawa people should take priority in deciding on the future relocation of U.S. bases on the island. The move of 8,000 Marines to Guam has been stalled in part because the people, to whom the new Government of Japan has been sensitive, want other bases there, which were to be moved elsewhere on the island under the agreement with the U.S. on the Guam move, to be shut down and the personnel on those bases also moved to Guam or the Northern Marianas.

No doubt Faleomavaega was hoping to break the logjam. Well, apparently he did—but not in the way he intended. Signaling a possible end to the dispute, a Japan vice defense minister has told Bloomberg News that the Japanese government will allow a U.S. military base to stay on Okinawa. Okinawan residents will be offered "compensation" in return for accepting the Japan government's decision.

So, if the Bloomberg story is correct, the Japanese will have ignored both the people on Okinawa who want all 50,000 U.S. troops moved off the island, and Faleomavaega, who says the people’s feeling should be the determining factor. The Japanese obviously do not give any great weight to Faleomavaega’s chairmanship of the House subcommittee that has oversight of U.S.-Japan relations.

And so it goes.

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