Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1972


Special Functions

Administration of the Ryukyu Islands

On May 15, 1972, responsibility for governing the Ryukyu Islands reverted to Japan, bringing an end to twenty-seven years of U.S. administration conducted by the Army. The transfer of responsibility followed ratification by the United States Senate and the Japanese Diet of the Okinawa Reversion Treaty, which had been signed on June 17, 1971.

Because of its responsibility for governing the Ryukyus during the entire period of U.S. tenure, the Army, both at Washington and in the field, was closely involved with the treaty negotiations and ramifications.

The Army provided extensive staff support in virtually all facets of these complicated proceedings, whereby the United States fulfilled its longstanding pledge to honor Japan's residual sovereignty over Okinawa by returning it to Japanese rule.

Under terms of the new treaty, the United States government has relinquished, in favor of Japan, all rights and interests in the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands. The United States retained its military base on Okinawa under provisions of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and related agreements. The Japanese government must now, however, be consulted before major changes are made in the deployment of U.S. forces and weapons, and before U.S. bases on Okinawa may be used to support combat operations elsewhere.

For its part, Japan has agreed to provide the necessary facilities and areas for U.S. forces stationed on Okinawa in support of U.S. treaty commitments in the Far East. Also, the Japanese will soon assume responsibility for the immediate defense of the Ryukyus. More fundamentally, the entire reversion arrangement includes a clear recognition by Japan of its stake in the collective security of the Far East.

At the end of its 27-year administration of the Rykyus, the Army could look with pride at its role in improving the welfare and well-being of the Ryukyuan people and in promoting their economic, educational, and social development.

When American troops first occupied Okinawa in the summer of 1945, following a grim 93-day battle in which about 200,000 noncombatants, 110,000 Japanese defenders, and 49,151 Americans were killed or wounded, Okinawa was virtually devastated. Its economy was


ruined, and its population was without means of subsistence. The return of some 180,000 repatriates to Okinawa from Japan and the South Pacific further aggravated a critical situation. For the first two years after the war, the Army provided food and clothing for all, medical care for the sick and wounded, seeds and tools for farmers, and other needed assistance. Congress appropriated $148 million during the seven years of occupation to finance the relief and rehabilitation of the Ryukyuans.

The Army's efforts in behalf of the Ryukyuan people continued after the Treaty of Peace took effect in 1952. During this period of Army administration, Congress provided an additional $280 million in economic aid. In addition, the U.S. military presence brought added benefits; some 40,000 Ryukyuans were employed, and goods and services were purchased on the local economy. These outlays provided an indirect form of financial assistance that ultimately amounted to more than $250 million annually.

In addition to achievements in the economic area, notable contributions were made in other areas of Ryukyuan life during the period of Army administration. The Army provided extensive funds for the expansion of the Ryukyuan educational system and founded the University of the Ryukyus, the first institution of higher learning in the archipelago. The university now has an enrollment of 4,000; many teachers in the public school system have been trained there, and its influence continues to expand. There have also been significant advances in the field of public health. Malaria, once prevalent, has been stamped out, and other diseases have been brought under control. The lifespan for women has advanced since 1952 from an average of 52 years to more than 75, while that for men has advanced from 47 years to nearly 70.

In regaining the Ryukyu Islands, Japan reacquired a prefecture which is in vastly better shape than in prewar years. The Okinawan economy is thriving, and the destruction caused by the last great Pacific military campaign has been erased from the landscape. Many public utilities, hitherto unknown, have been developed. An area that was predominantly agricultural has undergone an economic revolution, and an emerging industrial and commercial society has evolved. The population has almost doubled, from about one-half million to one million, and the standard of living is now at an all-time high, being exceeded in all of Asia only by that of some of Japan's other prefectures.

Administration of the Panama Canal

By authority delegated to him as the personal representative of the President, the Secretary of the Army has special responsibilities for Panama Canal matters which include operations of the Canal Zone government and the Panama Canal Company. The Canal Zone govern-


ment is administered under the supervision of the Secretary of the Army by the governor of the Canal Zone, who is appointed by the President. Management of the Panama Canal Company is vested in a board of directors appointed by the Secretary of the Army as "stockholder" representing the interests of the United States as owner of the corporation. The Secretary of the Army has appointed the Under Secretary of the Army as a member and chairman of the board.

These arrangements derive from the 1903 treaty which gave the United States the right to maintain, operate, and defend a canal in Panama in perpetuity, and the right to act "as if it were the sovereign" within a ten-mile-wide zone embracing the canal.

On June 29, 1971, after a four-year lapse, the United States and Panama resumed formal negotiations for a new Panama Canal treaty. The Deputy Under Secretary of the Army co-ordinates with the State Department in negotiations on military matters, as chairman of the Panama Canal Negotiations Working Group, which was established by Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird in August 1971; and for nonmilitary matters in his role of assisting the Secretary of the Army in the supervision of Canal Zone government affairs.

During fiscal year 1972, 14,238 ocean-going ships, including 413 United States government vessels, passed through the canal. Toll revenues were approximately $101.5 million, including credits for transits of the United States government vessels. The 1972 toll figure represented an increased of almost $1 million over 1971 revenues. Panama Canal revenues are applied against operating and capital expenses of the canal enterprise. Detailed financial statements are published in the annual reports of the Panama Canal Company and the Canal Zone government.

Promotion of Rifle Practice

The National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP) was established by congressional action in 1903. Marksmanship programs sponsored by the NBPRP are conducted by the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship.

The current civilian marksmanship program provides support to junior boys between the ages of 12 and 19. The Army loans .22-caliber rifles to participating clubs, provides .22-caliber ammunition and small-bore targets, and awards qualification badges to individuals who meet approved courses of fire on the range.

As in previous years, the NBPRP has authorized the National Rifle Association (NRA) to conduct four of the five National Trophy Matches at the Annual NRA National Rifle and Pistol Championships. In August 1971, a total of 58 teams, including 35 civilian teams, and


975 individuals competed for service rifle and service pistol trophies and medals at the NBPRP National Trophy Matches.

Appropriated funds for NBPRP programs were increased in fiscal year 1972 to $126,000, thus permitting the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship to maintain support of the civilian marksmanship programs at levels authorized by Army regulations.



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Last updated 27 August 2004