This is the interview Professor Roland Simbulan gave for the Japanese national daily newspaper AKAHATA in its July 9, 2010 issue. Akahata has a daily circulation in its Japanese edition of 1.2 million. Professor Roland Simbulan was interviewed by Akahata’s ASEAN correspondent, Mr. Inoue Ayumi.
1. Japanese politicians expressed opposing views on the issue of retaining the U.S. military facilities in Okinawa prefecture. Residents of Okinawa are pushing for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. military troops in their area, but the Japanese government still believes in the importance of maintaining its strategic defense alliance with the U.S. and has in fact broken its election promise to remove the U.S. bases. What is your opinion on this issue?
Strategic defense alliances can be forged with other countries even without the deployment of U.S. military bases and facilities on Japanese soil. As it is today, the so-called strategic defense alliance with the United States only makesJapan a hostage to U.S. overseas military adventures in contravention to Japan’s peace constitution, while at the same time putting Japan at risk because of the deployment of U.S. interventionist forces on its soil. It makes Japan a strategic sitting duck to enemies of the United States but which are not necessarily hostile to Japan.The people of Japan, especially the people of Okinawa where most of U.S. forces are deployed, are right in stepping up their struggle against interventionist U.S. military forces based on its soil. U.S. forces based in Japan such as the Marine Expeditionary Forces, are really interventionist forces used against other countries.
2. The Japanese government and pro-U.S. bases advocates insist that the U.S. military facilities in Okinawa are vital in the preservation of peace, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Do you believe that the Okinawa military facility serves as a deterrent against any threat on regional security and stability?
The preservation of peace, security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region does not depend on the deployment of foreign military forces on Japanese soil, or similarly, on other countries. On the contrary, these foreign military deployments have been the source of instability in East Asia as well as previously, in Southeast Asia. Deterrence against what? The only reason why North Korea is interested in Japan is because it is threatened by the presence of large numbers of U.S. interventionary forces on Japanese soil whose armaments are aimed against it. This was the same obsolete argument used by pro-bases elements in the Philippine and U.S. governments when U.S. military bases and facilities were still on Philippine soil. At that time, they were floating all kinds of “threats” ranging from China, North Korea and Vietnam.
3. How would you compare the regional security situation before and after the dismantling of the U.S. military bases in the Philippines.
The 1991 removal from the Philippines of the largest U.S. overseas naval and air force bases did not destabilize the Philippines nor threaten the security of Southeast Asian countries. On the contrary, the ASEAN is now more stable through the principle of collective non-interference , a principle formalized in such regional collective agreements such as the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone Treaty. Understandable, the United States was not in favor of these initiatives. It did not want ASEAN countries to rely on themselves for their security; the United States wanted them to rely for their defense and security on the gunboat diplomacy of U.S. military forces and the U.S. 7th Fleet. It seems that the U.S. is still relying on the obsolete containment policy as its regional doctrine, namely to surround countries it perceives hostile to its interests with a string of U.S. military bases, facilities and U.S. military forces. But the Cold War is over.
The Philippines was not, and is not threatened by anybody after the pullout of U.S. bases. We have in fact diversified our foreign relations with most countries of the world and it helped secure regional stability. The presence before of US military bases and forces on Philippine soil was the stumbling block if not the obstacle to the realization of ASEAN’s Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality. Their removal from the Philippines in 1991, allowed the full realization of the 1995 Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, a treaty which the United States tried to block but failed.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on July 19th 2010