This study examines the interaction between the politics in Fussa City and the Yokota Air Force Base, that is “the politics of place, ” from a range of political, economic, and cultural processes which maintain the existence of the base.
Military bases are generally established for global geopolitical purposes. However, the establishment of a military base has cultural implications for the local communities where the base is located, i.e., increased concerns about crimes committed by seavicepersons and noise by aircrafts. Although these military bases have some serious impacts, especially in Japan, geographers have not yet examined the issues regarding a particular military base and the resultant politics in the city.
On the contrary, since the 1980s, Anglo-American political geographers have paid more attention to “the politics of place” This refers to the local politics that occur due to the interaction between a structural constraint and the individuality of a particular place.
Therefore, this study examines “the politics of place” on the Yokota Air Base in Fussa City, Tokyo, by using resources from the local newspapers, novels, magazine articles, and council proceedings.
The results are as follows : (1) Owing to the independence between the U.S. Air Force and local political and economic actors, an urban structure and local economy that depended on the Yokota Air Force Base were constructed in Fussa Town after the establishment of the base in 1945; (2) because of this structure, the local economy became to depend on Air Force personnel as consumers; (3) however, due to a shift to the floating exchanging rate and a reduction in the population of the base in the first half of the 1970s, there was a decrease in the influence that Air Force personnel had on the local economy; (4) since the 1980s, an economic agent utilized the “atmosphere” and “image” adjacent to the base to revitalize the local economy; (5) furthermore, the mass media represented Fussa City as a “base town” and conducted a review of the city in the 1960s, thus contributing to its revitalization; (6) during the economic slump in the 1970s, some local political agents were against the existence of the base. However, successive mayors of Fussa City have accepted the existence of the base, and utilized the subsidies it receives from the national government in order to construct the urban infrastructure.
View full abstract