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In the postwar period the Okinawa problem for many years was a stumbling block in the relations between Japan and the United States, creating the risk of undermining the foundations of the alliance. In fact, Okinawa personified a deep contradiction between the diplomatic and military-strategic interests of the United States in East Asia and the national interests of Japan, for which Okinawa was a primarily domestic political problem. In the mid-1960 's, despite the increasing role of Okinawa in the American global strategy after the start of the Vietnam war, the United States came to the conclusion of the speedy reversion of Okinawa to Japan. The main obstacle for the implementation of this decision was the nuclear weapon stored in Okinawa, which played an important role in the global strategy of Pentagon. The United States managed to find an option of reversion Okinawa to Japan in 1972, under which they retained the right to store nuclear weapons in Okinawa and to transit them through the island in the case of emergency. The transfer administrative right on Okinawa to Japan was a symbolic act, by which the United States demonstrated their willingness for Japan to play a ‘responsible role’ in the alliance as an active actor, not just a junior partner.

About the authors

D V Streltsov

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia

Author for correspondence.

Doctor of History, Professor, Head of the Oriental Studies Department at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the MFA of the Russian Federation


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