【PART 1】 Mystery of Okinawa: Military Bases and the Constitution


【16】 Tokyo is in the exact same situation as Okinawa


The similarity between Okinawa and the mainland arises from what is known as the Yokota airspace above Tokyo, the counterpart of the Kadena airspace in Okinawa. It is controlled by U.S. Forces, and Japanese airplanes are not allowed to fly there. Therefore, in order to avoid this airspace, any planes flying west from Haneda airport must first fly east, towards Chiba Prefecture, before zooming up and turning sharply. To do this, they are forced to maneuver dangerously. It’s identical to the situation in Okinawa. After all, laws are the same across the country; what U.S. Forces can do in Okinawa, they can do on the mainland. The only difference is that they do not do it so conspicuously.

It should be noted, also, that the agreement of 1953, mentioned above, is applicable not only to Tokyo but to the whole country of Japan. Recall the key italicized component of the agreement:

The Japanese authorities will normally not exercise the right of search, seizure, or inspection with respect to any persons or property within facilities and areas in use by and guarded under the authority of the U.S. armed forces or with respect to property of the U.S. armed forces wherever situated.

Therefore, the situation is no different in Tokyo…or in Kanagawa, for example. If a U.S. aircraft crashes, Japanese authorities cannot lay a finger on it, or investigate the area to find out the cause of the accident. The fact that U.S. Forces are extra-constitutional goes for the whole country.

I will discuss this in more detail in PART 2, but American official documents have revealed that the rights of U.S. Forces Japan [USFJ] have mostly been retained, even after the occupation ended and Japan regained independence in 1952, and after the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised in 1960. In other words, in terms of U.S. Forces’ rights in Japan, virtually nothing has changed since the time of Japan’s occupation after WW2.


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Yokota airspace and U.S. military bases: U.S. forces are transported across the Pacific, enter Japan via the Yokota airspace, and disembark at the U.S. military base to which they are assigned without going through any immigration formalities. All they have to do to actually set foot on Japanese soil is to take a helicopter ride to the U.S. Forces Japan heliport in central Tokyo’s Roppongi area.