comparative politics international relations Japan-related research

JPOSS #8 “U.S. Military Should Not Be in My Backyard: A Case of Okinawa”

The eighth session of the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) took place on December 3, 2020. Christina Davis (Harvard) chaired the seminar and moderated the question and answer session.

Takako Hikotani (Columbia), Yusaku Horiuchi (Dartmouth), Atsushi Tago (Waseda) presented their paper, “U. S. Military Should Not Be in My Backyard: A Case of Okinawa.” In their presentation, Hikotani, Horiuchi, and Tago they discuss how their paper is a response to Allen et al. (2020) which argues that citizens in U.S. allies are more likely to nurture favorable attitudes toward the U.S. government, American people, and American troops because they have inter-personal contact with Americans and receive economic benefits associated with the U.S. military presence. They point out that the analysis presented by Allen and colleagues disregards the geographical concentration of U.S. military facilities within the host countries. Seeking to fill this gap, Hikotani, Horiuchi, and Tago explore public attitudes toward the American military presence in Okinawa because of its high concentration of U. S. military bases (a small Japanese prefecture constituting only 0.6% of Japan’s surface land but hosting 70% of U.S. military facilities within Japan). Based on a national sample and a targeted sample from Okinawa, they not only replicate the survey experiment used in Allen et al. (2020) but also field a new one designed to elicit Japanese citizens’ attitudes toward the Osprey deployment in Japan. Hikotani and colleagues’ study shows strong Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) sentiment among Japanese people, particularly among Okinawans, toward the military presence, regardless of their contact with Americans and economic benefits. In this way, Hikotani, Horiuchi, and Tago’s research highlights the salience of local attitudes toward U. S. military bases in allied countries where American troops are stationed and contributes to foreign policy debates about American military presence in the world.

Discussant comments were offered by Yoshiaki Kubo (Harvard Program on U.S.-Japan Relations; University of the Ryukyus), Michael Tomz (Stanford). The discussion raised interesting questions about the Japanese and Okinawan public attitudes toward the U. S. and American military personnel stationed in Japan as well as the Japanese Self Defense Forces. The discussants and the audience also offered many constructive suggestions pertaining to research methods and possible future directions of the research.

This event attracted around seventy-five 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: