Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa

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okinawa

Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa.

This is probably a good topic for students to learn a little something. Most people don’t know about the U.S. military presence in Asia and how we handle business in that part of the world. That being said, the debate will actually be pretty shallow. There aren’t many good reasons to go one way or the other, so rounds will likely become tennis matches unless students develop some creative positions.

Definitions

Okinawa – Okinawa is an island chain to the south of Japan. The United States has historically maintained a strong military base there as a launching point to the rest of Asia/Southeast Asia

Withdraw its military presence – Do not get caught up in how much of the military presence is to be withdrawn. For the sake of the debate, just assume that the United States will no longer maintain a military base(s) on the island chain of Okinawa.

Should – This is the most important word in the resolution. Your framework will need to explain how a government decides what it should do. Then you will apply that framework to this specific situation to argue the resolution.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Unnecessary Expenditure – The United States’ primary obligation is to its own people. It should be spending toward that obligation above other things. Maintaining a military presence in Okinawa does not promote the interests of the American people, and therefore, is an unnecessary effort that does not fulfill the obligations of the U.S. government.

2. Political Conflict – The people of Okinawa do not want a U.S. military base in their home, and since WW2 is over, we do not have a reason to continue to maintain one there. We are violating principles of international law, as well as the self determination of the Japanese people, by doing this.

Con

1. Security – A government’s primary obligation is to protect its own people. That is the reason governments are formed to begin with. A military presence in Asia is integral to fulfilling this obligation for the U.S. Countries like North Korea are a legitimate threat, and Okinawa allows the U.S. to maintain the possibility of a rapid response to any hostile activity. It also acts as a deterrent against any such hostility.

2. Obligation to Japan – The United States has committed to protecting Japan against foreign threats. This is particularly important since Japan is not allowed to have its own standing military. In order for the United States to honor this commitment, a military presence is Okinawa is necessary.

That should help you get started. Good luck!

31 Replies to “Resolved: The United States should withdraw its military presence from Okinawa”

  1. I need further details on how the U.S would have an Obligation to Japan. It cant simply be that we won the war and owe them something. It also cannot be that Japan cant have its own standing military. If the U.S. Military Presence withdrew Japan would be forced to increase its own Military. I just need some help, since I don’t quite understand the Obligation.

    1. Hi Ry,

      Japan is actually not permitted to have its own military, by law. Part of the conditions for ending WW2 included a provision in Japanese law that prevents them from having a military. They get around this by having a “national guard” but it’s nowhere close to a military that would be able to defend them. And yes, that is where the obligation comes from. We are therefore obligated to protect our ally because we prevent them from being able to protect themselves.

    1. Actually no, even if they don’t want us there we HAVE to be there. Even if the citizens don’t want us there doesn’t mean that we SHOULD leave. If we would leave, then they would be unable to protect themselves from major threats, because they are unable to have a military. Take this analogy, if you don’t want your parents to be at a party, but without them you could drink too much possible die should they leave? No, they have an obligation to protect you.

    2. Hi Isabel,

      Not necessarily. Since the U.S. is not the government of the Japanese people, then our legitimacy does not follow from their consent. Our obligations exist on a level beyond that, whether the people want it or not.

  2. Can’t Japan defend itself. After WW2 they can’t have an offensive military, but they can have a defensive military, so can’t they still defend themselves without the US?

    1. Hi Joe,

      That’s not actually true. Japan is not allowed to have a “standing military” according to the post-WW2 agreement. That technically does include a defensive force. Now, they’ve gotten around the wording and do have some military forces, but certainly not enough to defend against a full scale invasion, let alone fight in a full scale war.

    1. You can argue that it violates the human rights or sovereignty respecting parts of international. You can look up the universal declaration of human rights and various U.N. declarations for reference.

    1. Hi Anon,

      I’m sure we could come up with a number of arguments, but this is all I’ve put up for the post right now. If you’d like to work together on a position, feel free to post here in the comments, and we can have a discussion.

  3. Political Conflict – The people of Okinawa do not want a U.S. military base in their home, and since WW2 is over, we do not have a reason to continue to maintain one there. We are violating principles of international law, as well as the self determination of the Japanese people, by doing this.

    i like this argument. Can I get a source on that so I can get mor info

    1. Hello,

      I don’t give out sources on the blog. You’ll need to do some research into the situation to find the evidence about the situation there.

  4. 1. Unnecessary Expenditure – The United States’ primary obligation is to its own people. It should be spending toward that obligation above other things. Maintaining a military presence in Okinawa does not promote the interests of the American people, and therefore, is an unnecessary effort that does not fulfill the obligations of the U.S. government.

    I feel like an easy rebuttal to this point is that a base in Okinawa does promote the interests of the American people by protecting against threats from countries with nuclear weapons- as this is an obvious benefit of Okinawa, how would one respond to this point?

    1. Hi David,

      Good question. My response would be to ask what countries? Are we talking about North Korea? They don’t have the capability to launch nuclear weapons to the United States. China? They haven’t shown any intention to do it. Pakistan? Israel? Okinawa isn’t even close to those ones. Additionally, what good is a military base on an island going to do in the wake of a nuclear weapons launch? It’s not like they could stop it if it happened.

  5. By the Japan Constitution they are not allowed to have a military so does that mean a good argument would be that we are almost forced to stay to protect or am i missing something.

      1. The new topic is Resolved: To alleviate income inequality in the United States, increased spending on public infrastructure should be prioritized over increased spending on means-tested welfare programs.

        1. Hm, weird, I guess they don’t post them on the main page anymore? Or the website changed. I’ll get right on it. Thanks for the heads up.

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