【PART 5】  The Last Mystery Voluntary slavish obedience and its historical origin


【5】 Conflict between U.S. Forces and the Department of State over Okinawa 


The Showa Emperor’s “Okinawa message” held an important meaning for the U.S., and especially its military. The reason is that the military and the Department of State were in sharp conflict over what to do about postwar Okinawa. (U.S.’s Process of Deciding Diplomatic Policies, written by Seigen Miyazato, San-ichi Publishing / Politics and Diplomacy Concerning the Return of Okinawa, written by Yasuko Kono, University of Tokyo Press)

The basic policy of the U.S. Forces after World War II was to put the western Pacific under U.S. control. This was based on their awareness that allowing Japan to rule that region after World War I jeopardized the Philippines and Guam.

Therefore, the U.S. military intended to categorize Okinawa as a “strategic area” under the trusteeship system and more or less take military control of the island, along with the South Sea Islands (now the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau), which was mandate territory of Japan before World War II. In contrast to normal trust territories, which are placed under the jurisdiction of the UN and undergo regular reports and inspections, “strategic areas” are placed under the jurisdiction of the Security Council. Therefore, U.S. Forces imagined the U.S. could exercise their veto power to easily make such areas into military bases, once they got the initial approval to rule from the Soviet Union.

However, the State Department was against such ambitions of the military, and maintained that Okinawa should be returned to Japan after “demilitarizing” it, or basically closing all U.S. military bases. Based on the Atlantic Charter’s principle of “no territorial expansion,” they believed that putting such a large population as Okinawa’s under their control would attract criticism of the U.S. as “imperialist.” They also believed that such expansion of territory would greatly damage the moral position and political leadership of the U.S. (In fact, five years later, India criticized U.S. control of Okinawa as “colonialist” and as a result refused to attend the San Francisco Peace Conference.)

In November, the same year, the Department of State issued a document arguing once again that Okinawa should be returned to Japan following its demilitarization. It wrote that the American public also condemned the military’s vision, saying it is was a disguised annexation of territory, and that it would damage the moral position of the U.S. in the UN.