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Electronic journal of contemporary Japanese studies
Published in Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 15(3) 2015.
Over the last two decades, the United States and its allies have taken great efforts to realign US military posture in the Asia-Pacific region. The realignment has been designed around maintaining its modern military capabilities, which enable the US to provide a reassuring presence in the region despite having reduced its footprint since the Cold War. At the same time, it is also an attempt to address domestic political pressures in several host countries, including Japan. Amidst rising tensions and with growing concerns over non-traditional security issues such as piracy and disaster relief, many commentators agree that a strong US presence remains necessary, even if opinions differ on its exact nature (e.g. Schwartz 2014). In this context, the continuing stalemate over the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (MCAS Futenma) in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture presents a potential challenge to both the US-Japan alliance and regional stability. Furthermore, that Okinawan civil society has managed to stall the relocation represents a puzzle in the field of international relations (IR), where state priorities are usually presumed to triumph over local interests, particularly given the progress of a similar realignment process in South Korea.