Protests Against U.S. Military Base Policy in Asia
Persuasion and Its Limits
Yuko Kawato


Contents and Abstracts
chapter abstract

This chapter presents the theoretical arguments about when, how, and how much protests influence U.S. military base policy. First, the chapter explains what base politics is and who the main actors are. Second, it introduces protesters' arguments against base policies which refer to antiwar, antimilitarism, sovereignty, human rights, antinuclear, and environmental norms. Third, the chapter discusses the causal processes through which protests influence policy. 1) Policy change through persuasion is more likely when normative arguments do not contradict policy-makers' knowledge and beliefs, and when policy-makers think protest organizations are credible. Enabling domestic institutions are necessary for persuasion to translate into policy change. 2) When protesters fail to persuade policy-makers but generate incentives for policy change, policy-makers compromise and change policy in a limited way. 3) When policy-makers decide against policy change, they can offer symbolic concessions to protests.

1 Response to Protests in Okinawa Under the U.S. Administration, 1945–1972
chapter abstract

This chapter examines two cases of protest against U.S. military base policy in Okinawa. First, it presents the American response to protests in the 1950s. The United States administered Okinawa since the end of World War II and implemented a land policy that facilitated the establishment of military bases. Local residents opposed the policy that included compensation which they believed was grossly inadequate and forcible land expropriation if they refused to sign leases. The second case is from between the early 1960s and Okinawa's reversion to Japan in 1972. Protesters demanded a reversion to Japan without American military bases. In both cases, protesters' arguments—referring to human rights, sovereignty, antiwar, antimilitarism, and antinuclear norms—failed to persuade policy-makers. The first case did not lead to policy change but policy-makers decided to make symbolic concessions. The second case resulted in a limited policy change through compromise.

2 Response to Protests in Okinawa, 1995–1996 and 2009–2010
chapter abstract

This chapter first examines the protests in the mid-1990s which demanded a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement and a reduction of U.S. bases. Protesters' arguments failed to persuade policy-makers, but protesters generated incentives for a limited policy change within a context in which Tokyo and Washington tried to strengthen their alliance. Second, the chapter explains the policy outcome on the relocation of Futenma Air Station in 2010. Protesters' normative arguments, in addition to other types of arguments from local and national politicians, persuaded Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio that Futenma should be relocated to another prefecture or abroad. Protesters referred to antiwar, antimilitarism, and environmental norms, and complained that Okinawa already had more bases than other prefectures. However, due to bureaucratic resistance, Hatoyama was unable to change the plan to relocate Futenma to Henoko in northern Okinawa. The United States also refused to change the existing plan.

3 Response to Protests in South Korea, 2000–2007
chapter abstract

This chapter examines five cases. Protests led to a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in 2001 on criminal custody and environmental protection. Seoul and Washington enabled the transfer of the custody of American suspects to Korea after indictment, but with conditions. The governments did not change environmental policy on base but included environmental provisions in the SOFA as a symbolic concession to protesters. In 2002–2003, protesters demanded Korean jurisdiction over cases involving U.S. military personnel on duty. The governments offered a SOFA implementation agreement as a symbolic concession. The chapter then explains land expropriation in Pyeongtaek for base expansion despite large protests. Persuasion failed and the governments proceeded with the planned expansion. Finally, the chapter analyses the U.S. military's renewed effort to prevent military personnel's involvement in prostitution.

4 Response to Protests in the Philippines, 1964–1965 and 1972–1979
chapter abstract

This chapter analyzes two protests against the Military Bases Agreement (MBA) in the Philippines. In 1964–1965, protesters demanded that the Philippines be granted expanded rights to exercise criminal jurisdiction in order to protect its sovereignty. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, protesters asked for a closure of military bases. Under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, whom the United States supported to maintain military bases, protesters asked for base closure by referring to democracy, sovereignty, human rights, and antinuclear norms. Persuasion failed in both cases. In 1965 Philippine and American policy-makers offered a limited policy change to defuse Philippine domestic pressures while ensuring American military effectiveness. In 1979 domestic opposition to the MBA did not lead to policy change, but policy-makers offered symbolic concessions to cultivate a nationalist image for Marcos.

5 Persuasion and the Closure of U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines, 1991
chapter abstract

This chapter discusses the Philippine Senate's decision in 1991 to close all U.S. military bases in the country. The Military Bases Agreement between the United States and the Philippines was expiring, and this gave the Philippines a unique opportunity to consider whether it would continue to host U.S. military bases or not. American and Philippine negotiators created a treaty to extend the American military presence, but a 12–11 vote in the Philippine Senate defeated the treaty. Two senators voted against the treaty for non-normative reasons. Normative arguments against military bases—which emphasized sovereignty, democracy, human rights, and antinuclear norms—persuaded the ten remaining senators who voted against the treaty. People whom these senators considered credible persuaded them. Domestic institutions including the 1987 Philippine constitution and antinuclear legislation made possible the translation of the senators' persuasion into the policy outcome.

chapter abstract

The Conclusion summarizes the findings and offers recommendations to policy-makers and activists. Recommendations to policy-makers include: 1) do not wait until large protests break out to respond to local grievances about the American military presence; 2) develop a greater partnership with local governments; 3) continue to reduce the U.S. military footprint in host states; and 4) engage in a better public relations effort. Recommendations to activists include: 1) because persuasion takes time, focus on public education to mold future leaders' attitudes toward base policies; 2) prioritize the mobilization of large protests to pressure policy-makers to change policy, over lobbying policy-makers to persuade them; 3) work with organizations that policy-makers perceive as credible; and 4) encourage host states to improve domestic laws and practices that are relevant to base policy. The chapter also proposes some issues for further research.