Since the end of World War II and Japan's surrender to the Allies, the United States has retained a considerable military presence on the island nation. US forces are distributed across the major islands, but concentrated mostly on the small island of Okinawa. Initially used as an occupation force to ensure the post-war peace, the bases soon took on the role of strategic positions during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Japan was a necessary forward base for fighting the Korean and Vietnam wars. However even when the Soviet Union collapsed the bases remained. Now, more than sixty years since the end of World War II, the United States continues to maintain its bases and resist urges to leave. The Japanese public has for several years clamored for their removal, citing numerous crimes committed by American soldiers against Japanese civilians over the years. The United States, on the other hand, has persisted in its insistence that the bases are vital for maintaining security in East Asia and for protecting Japan, which has no standing military capable of offensive combat. Proponents of removing the bases, cite the lack of need and mandate from the Japanese people, and the strategic and diplomatic benefits they perceive as stemming from withdrawal. Opponents contend that the bases are a strategic necessity for protecting Japan and for maintaining stability in East Asia. Debates thus focus on the issues of whether the bases are necessary for the security of Japan and East Asia, and whether or not the United States military is a force for good in Japan.
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