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


【25】 Treaties with the U.S. officially became superior to the Constitution of Japan


More seriously, the Supreme Court ruling by Kotaro Tanaka has had a wider impact beyond military issues. The farthest-reaching effect has been to make permanent the power structure created in the occupied period — no doubt preserved by illegal means ever since:

U.S. government (superior)  >  Japanese government (inferior)

This ruling legally cemented this hierarchy to look like this:

Set of treaties with the U.S. (superior)  >  Japanese domestic laws including the Constitution (inferior)

The Security Treaty only has 10 articles, but beneath it is the SOFA, which establishes the legal privileges of USFJ. Moreover, based on the SOFA, Japanese bureaucrats and U.S. Forces officials have been holding talks every month for more than 60 years on how USFJ should actually be operated.

The talks have been formulated as an organization known as the “Japan-U.S. Joint Committee.” As you can see on the diagram as follows, it is composed of top USFJ officials and Japanese elite bureaucrats selected from various ministries and agencies, such as the Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau at MOFA. They actually meet twice every month to make various agreements, which are inscribed in the conference records. Some agreements, however, are not written down?they are so-called “secret agreements.” In sum, there is a vast number of agreements, which takes on the character of the legal structure of a whole country. What’s more, they are generally not publicized.