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  • Author: Koji Kagotani, Yuki Yanai
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
  • Institution: Japan Association of International Relations
  • Abstract: A number of US overseas bases were deployed around the world to protect allies and maintain regional peace. Some bases have been stationed in the partner countries for the long term, whereas others were withdrawn from their partners' territories in the face of strong local opposition. Understanding local support for US overseas bases is indispensable for managing alliance politics and pursuing US grand strategy. This article addresses the 1972–2006 Okinawa gubernatorial elections where the US base issue had been chronically politicized and locals supported pro-base candidates six out of ten times contrary to their anti-base preferences. This article addresses external threats as a determinant of vote choice. We analyze the gubernatorial elections as the opportunities for Okinawans to convey their support for or opposition to the current national security policy since US bases in Okinawa are critical to Japan's security. We find that external threats do encourage Okinawans to support pro-base candidates, but the effect of perceived security-related risks is moderate. Moreover, physical and psychological costs such as airplane crashes, environmental and noise pollution, and rape incidents have larger influence on the election outcomes rather than material benefits such as the fiscal transfers and base-related subsidies, which is contrary to the conventional view.
  • Topic: Security, Environment, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East