In the wake of a major summit meeting between the United States, Japan, and South Korea, which strengthened ties between these nations, China is trying to cut in on the dance floor.
Beijing viewed that meeting in Camp David as a means of raising an attempt by the U.S. to increase the pressure against China at a time of intensifying rivalry with the United States. between the two superpowers. With tensions high, Xi’s first summit with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts seeks to turn down the heat and prevent the two nearby Asian powers from aligning too closely with Washington in the growing geopolitical competition consuming the Asia-Pacific.
“I think the objective of the Chinese is to ease this pressure that they feel they’re under because of the efforts of the American government and its allies and partners and an ever-broadening alignment of countries, similar to what the Americans have carried out with the Russians in Ukraine,” said Robert Sutter, a professor at George Washington University who previously served in a number of U.S. government position, including at the National Intelligence Council and the State Department.
The scope of this U.S. outreach goes beyond Japan and South Korea, to include Southeast Asian nations such as the Philippines and Vietnam. The effort is part of what Sutter referred to as Biden’s “effective” diplomacy geared toward “building up these positions of strength in ways that aren’t directly provocative to China, but very much undermine what China wants to accomplish.”
America in Japan
During World War II, American propagandists loudly trumpeted Nazi atrocities, to drum up hatred for the Germans. American propagandists didn’t say much about Japanese atrocities, which were just as bad, mostly because most Americans already hated the Japanese. Therefore, later generations did not feel as much animosity toward Japan.
Additionally, the Allies broke Germany into four parts, which later became two parts. The United States exclusively controlled Japan after World War II. Cold War battlegrounds were on Japan’s doorstep, in Korea and China. But Japan itself remained firmly in the U.S. orbit. Therefore, later generations saw post-imperial Japan as a reliable ally.
In contrast, many Japanese don’t have good vibrations about Americans, or at least about the American military presence in Japan. Quite understandably, they still view America as a conquering foreign power. Every G.I. Joe they see reminds them the Americans reduced their beloved emperor from absolute ruler to mere figurehead.
As a result, America’s military presence in Japan is complicated. Many Japanese welcome American protection against North Korea and other neighborhood bullies, but they are not particularly happy about the arrangement. Tensions erupted in 1995 in Okinawa.
At the time, 75% of American military assets were crowded onto the tiny island of Okinawa. After three servicemembers brutally assaulted a 12-year-old girl, many people had had enough. Over 80,000 Okinawans protested the American military presence on their island.
The kettle kept boiling. In June 2016, as many as 65,000 Okinawans protested the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman by a former U.S. Marine. They were not alone in their outrage. Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga asked for the immediate and complete removal of U.S. forces from Okinawa, a request politicians on both sides of the Pacific seriously considered.
Instead, they compromised. The U.S. and Japan agreed to move most American assets to Guam by 2024. Stepped-up North Korean and Chinese aggression have put those plans on hold, at least for now. Nevertheless, it is clear the Japanese have removed the welcome mat.
Contractors in Japan
American private military contractors are the ideal solution for politicians in Washington and Tokyo. They protect a valuable ally and they have a low profile.
Contractors deter aggression. Under U.S. law, they cannot attack anyone. But they can defend themselves, and contractors are tenacious fighters. If attacked, they hold the line and protect the Japanese until the cavalry arrives. Bullies usually attack soft targets. They usually avoid people who can fight back.
Weapons of war are almost as important as the men and women who wield them. Contractors keep advanced weapons systems in tip-top shape. Long-range drones are a good example. These gadgets disrupt approaching forces and provide valuable intelligence. But they are not any good if they are in the shop. These drones are so complex that a minor problem could ground them for days or weeks. Contractors work to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Also, as mentioned, contractors keep a low profile. They usually have American flags on their uniforms, but they do not count in official troop deployment statistics. If 1,000 contractors replace 1,000 regular servicemembers, the official tally drops significantly and the level of service remains constant.
Moreover, many private military contractors are former law enforcement officers. They know the value of stealthy deterrence. If things go sideways, they are quickly on the spot. Otherwise, they sit back and are relatively unnoticed.
This stealthy deterrence provides excellent security for American physical military assets in Japan. Kids often vandalize poorly-guarded construction sites. But if they see a guy carrying a gun, they go home.
Injury Compensation Available
Military deployment is always hard on families. It is even harder when the deployed person gets hurt. In these situations, a family typically loses its primary, or only, source of income.
Defense Base Act lost wage replacement gives these families financial and emotional relief. They feel less anxious about the future when their bank account balances do not begin with a minus sign.
Even if bullets are not flying, injury risks abound for contractors. Since each injury is different, the DBA breaks down lost wage replacement into four basic categories:
- Permanent Total Disability: Victims are totally disabled if they cannot work due to their injuries. Therefore, some injuries are totally disabling in some situations. Permanent physical injuries often do not affect college professors. But a slight permanent injury, such as a shattered hip, could disable a contractor. Wage replacement benefits are difficult to calculate in these cases because future wages are uncertain.
- Permanent Partial Disability: These wage replacement benefits are almost as hard to calculate. For example, if Tom inhales toxic fumes and can only work part-time for the rest of his life, his DBA wage replacement benefit must basically increase his part-time wages to full-time wages.
- Temporary Total Disability: Most falls and other trauma injuries are TTD injuries. Usually, these victims receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage for the duration of their disabilities. The AWW includes cash and non-cash compensation, like housing allowance. The AWW also includes lost future wages, like missed performance bonuses.
- Temporary Partial Disability: Some TTD victims can work in the office or at another light-duty assignment as they recover. Light-duty assignments usually pay less than their regular assignments. If that is the case, DBA benefits pay two-thirds of the difference between the old and new incomes.
Generally, contractor injury cases do not settle right away. In fact, they usually settle prior to an Administrative Law Judge appeal, which is at the end of a rather long process. Usually, the wage replacement award is retroactive to the filing date in these cases.
For more information about the DBA process, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.