Manga to promote US-Japan military alliance

image captionThe manga is the first of four explaining the half-century alliance

The US military is to use manga-style comics to teach Japanese children about the two countries' security alliance.

Four comics featuring a Japanese girl and a visiting US boy will be posted online, each exploring how US and Japanese troops work together.

A US spokesman said they were intended as a light-hearted explanation of the history of the alliance.

The comics, marking 50 years of the security pact, come amid strained ties over US bases in Okinawa.

The first Japanese-language manga comic, entitled Our Alliance - A Lasting Partnership, will be posted online on Wednesday.

In it the young girl, Arai Anzu - which sounds like alliance when pronounced by a Japanese person - asks the boy, Usa-kun - a play on USA - why he is protecting her house.

"Because we have an alliance," he says. "We are 'Important Friends'."

"It's good to have a friend you can rely on to go with you," the little girl concludes.

Major Neal Fisher, deputy director of the US forces' public affairs office in Japan, said the manga were intended as a "light-hearted approach to telling the story of the alliance through the eyes of two young people who are learning why the US military are in Japan".

The manga format was chosen because it was "a very commonly accepted format of media in Japan - it is read as much if not more than newspapers", he added.

Some paper copies of the comics would also be available at bases, he said.

Japan hosts some 47,000 US troops in return for security guarantees from the US, under a security pact agreed in 1960. More than half of these troops are based on the southern island of Okinawa.

Plans to relocate the Futenma airbase from southern to northern Okinawa have caused outrage amongst residents who want the base moved off the island completely.

The row toppled Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, after he was forced to renege on a pledge to re-evaluate the base relocation deal.

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