The Japanese government announced it will ban the ships until further notice and it has since ordered a quarantine of the entire fleet which now includes the Princess. (See the article in the Chicago Tribune by Mark D’Onofrio, September 16, 2016) In August 2013 the Japanese government ordered the closure of the (inactive) Yokosuka Naval Base due to ongoing protests, resulting in the loss of 800 personnel. The first to suffer damage is the Japanese Navy’s destroyers and destroyers plus the aircraft carriers, the Yasukuni Shrine where the Japanese flag once flew. These ships are now being quarantined in Yokosuka. In September 2011 the Japanese Navy ordered the ships deployed from the Marianas Islands to be placed on a 24 hour alert and put in quarantine while the island was searched for the remains. (See the article in Yahoo News by Josh Meyer, September 16, 2011)
Why is Japan so concerned?
The Japanese government is currently in high turmoil. Japan has been shaken by the financial crisis, so will the Prime Minister Abe act quickly to address the situation? If his policy is to stay in power, or more to the point, if the government falls and he is forced off the scene, does that mean Japan will take another look at the Yasukuni statues? The United States Government has not changed from its stance of not being a party to the Japan/Japan-US alliance and Abe is unlikely to change his position of being a non-proliferation leader. To further the Japanese problem is that there are numerous stories of the ‘US’ not being able to track whether the ships which the Japanese government has ordered be relocated are in fact ‘occupied’.
If these ships would have been declared ‘unoccupied’ and allowed to remain on Japanese soil after the Japanese government made their decision, how would the US government explain why the US remains so keen to engage Japan in military activity? This seems to not be the case as the US and Japan seem unable or unwilling to share information. The most telling statement of the Japanese government’s ‘allies’ is that they refuse to acknowledge that the Japanese government has not done its job of managing the situation. We now have an island where the Japanese government and the US are both concerned that they may not even know who is living at the end of that chain, leaving the two sides in a deadlock which is likely only to get worse, as the Japanese government continues to hold onto historical statues. As the Japanese government claims its ‘allies’, it should make a move to allow such statues be razed.
The Japanese government seems to be doing everything it can to avoid the issue. The latest is that the government has decided to close down the ship factory, which was a key economic development for Okinawa. (See the article by Kyodo News, August 20, 2016) If any of the naval ships are to be removed, however, the Japanese government has threatened to close down the entire island. (See the article by Reuters, August 20, 2016)
As of yet there is no clear government mandate for the removal of any of the Japanese military assets. It seems odd that a nation so close to entering the Middle East would be reluctant to allow any of its own vessels to be removed. An incident of such size should have been addressed through direct government action and the government appears to be having a hard time getting along with its own government. Perhaps the US administration is having a hard time getting along with its own government? It’s a question the US doesn’t want to answer but one which the US can as it tries to maintain the alliance with Japan. At the moment the Japanese government appears to be trying to look after its own self-interest and the international economy at the same time, but it is unclear if this behaviour is what the Japanese government, and likely the US government, wants. Both governments seem reluctant to face the problems which the country is facing and this only serves to increase the risk of further violence.
This leaves us in extremely serious discussions about whether the Japan-US alliance ever truly needed to begin in the first place. What is at stake is the very survival of this alliance. Why can’t the US step up and support Japan, which is the United States closest neighbour. After all, this is the only alliance Japan actually has with the US.
There is a real possibility that future wars might erupt over any of these issues. The question is: if the Japanese government is so concerned about the health of the military alliance, why won’t it allow the removal of the statues of the military involved or even allow the Japanese ships to be removed? The Japanese government seems to be in denial with the issue of the Japanese ships being removed, but how are the Japanese going to defend against the possibility of a conflict with Russia?
If we read what the Japanese government is saying, we find that it might have been much stronger to simply say ‘sorry and let the ships be removed’ and take some of the responsibility. If the US had been willing to admit,