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


【4】 Taking pictures of all U.S. military bases in Okinawa without permission in order to publish a book


My astonishment on discovering these unbelievable truths was what drove me, after returning from Okinawa, to write a book on U.S. military bases, and to start the history series Rediscovering Japanese History After World War II (mentioned above in the Foreword).

What I mean by the book on U.S. military bases is the visitor’s guide to bases in Okinawa that I created based on the aforementioned photo shoot trip.

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What Mainland Japanese People Don’t Know, but All Okinawans Know ? the Visitor’s Guide to U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa (Shoseki-johosha, 2011)


We took pictures of all 28 of the U.S. bases in Okinawa without permission, and added comments. The Rediscovering Japanese History After World War II series began as a result of publishing this book.

I mentioned that we took the pictures without permission, but in fact taking pictures is not legally permitted at all. Usually, pulling out a camera next to a military base abroad would get you carted off and your camera confiscated.

When I first met Mr. Ukeru Magosaki (an expert on Russia, a former diplomat, and the author of The Truth of Post-War History), he remarked, “You’ve got a lot of nerve to make such a book. Had it been in Russia, you and the photographer would have surely been shot to death.”

An elderly driver who took us around Okinawa also exclaimed, “If it was in pre-war Japan, you’d be put to death!”

Of course, in modern Japan this wouldn’t happen. But in the worst-case scenario I thought that we might be arrested. In fact, after we started our photographing, we learned of the existence of a special law called the Act on Special Measures Concerning Criminal Cases. It was enacted at the time of the stationing of U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ). If such photo shoots are seen as a leak of military information, the Act stipulates imprisonment of up to 10 years. This can be called the prototype of the Special Secrecy Law, which the Abe administration passed in 2013, and which carries extremely heavy penalties.