Yankee Go Home?

Hiroaki Yamashiro / Bloomberg via Getty Images

A F-22 fighter jet flies over Kadena Base in Okinawa, Japan

Mention China on the dockside of Itoman port, Okinawa, and you can expect a few hard stares. Ever since Sept. 7, 2010, when a Chinese trawler collided with Japanese coast-guard vessels near the uninhabited Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu in Chinese), seafaring Okinawans have been spooked. "Only a few boats still dare go as far as Senkaku," says fisherman Soichi Maezato. "We're more careful now."

Lying halfway between mainland Japan and China, the Japanese island of Okinawa is caught in a power struggle. For the past few years, China has been challenging U.S. naval...

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