comparative politics international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #19 “Framing the Conversation: the US Military and Anti-US-Military Activism in Japan”

The nineteenth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on August 5, 2021. Amy Catalinac (New York University) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Charmaine Willis (University at Albany, SUNY) presented her paper, “Framing the Conversation: the US Military and Anti-US-Military Activism in Japan.” During her presentation, Willis outlined puzzling variation in public opposition to hosting US military bases in Japan. Previous studies of this topic have not explained why there have been many protests against US bases in Okinawa but few in mainland Japan. Focused on explaining this disparity, Willis seeks to discern why the US bases in Okinawa have elicited more protest than the bases on the Japanese mainland through a mixed-method analysis that employs an original protest event dataset, interviews, and primary documents. Based on a comparison of public reactions to US bases in Okinawa and the Tokyo metropolitan area, she argues that the difference is primarily rooted in divergent protest framing and discursive opportunity structures. Willis finds that public opposition to US bases in Okinawa is based on its history of marginalization and the higher visibility of American forces.

Discussant comments were offered by Yoshiaki Kubo (Indiana University Bloomington; University of the Ryukyus) and Andrew Yeo (Catholic University of America). Participants discussed the politics of hosting US forces in Japan and in other US-aligned countries. Moreover, discussants offered useful comments on how foreign and domestic policy can intersect to create specific political dynamics as in the case of Okinawa.

This event attracted several participants and produced an engaging Q&A session. The organizers would like to thank the presenters, discussants, and participants, as well as the staff at the Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, who provided administrative support. We look forward to seeing you at the next session of JPOSS: