Thursday, July 8, 2010

144 Okinawan landowners lose lawsuit contesting the Japanese government's continued expropriation of their land for U.S. military use

On June 22, Kyodo News reported that the Naha District Court turned down a suit challenging the Japanese government's expropriation of private property for U.S. military in Okinawa use in Okinawa. This includes land on which the U.S. located the Marine Corps' Futenma air station.

144 landowners in Okinawa Prefecture filed the suit, arguing the U.S. military presence in Japan itself violates Japan's Peace Constitution. But the three-judge panel presided by Judge Naoto Hirata found in favor of the Japanese government which defended the U.S. military use of Okinawan land without consent of these landowners.

The Japanese government insist that Japan is obliged to provide land lots to the U.S. under the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

However JALISA and other legal experts counter this view:
Japan is not obligated to provide the US Marines with bases.

In the first place, US military bases in Okinawa were illegally expanded and built. Even before acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration on August 14, 1945 land was expropriated while Okinawans were detained in prison camps, and by means of “bayonets and bulldozers” with the start of the Cold War. Such acts are not justifiable even by the law of war, and therefore violate international law. And the Japan-US Security Treaty, which is invoked to paper over these illegalities, establishes that bases are provided to US forces under the conditions that provision is based on the will of the Japanese government, and that it contributes to the security of Japan and the Far East, but the US Marines, owing to the nature of the force, does not help to achieve such purposes, and as such their stationing in Japan lacks justification under the treaty.

Further, 75% of US military bases and facilities are concentrated in this one prefecture of Okinawa, and all Okinawans want US bases to be downsized and removed. The principles of democracy, which are recognized universally the world over, do not tolerate troop stationing which goes against the will of the people.

In Japan the Constitution’s Preamble and Articles 9 and 98 provide the right to seek removal of US military bases.

The Japanese Constitution provides that “never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government” and recognizes that “all peoples of the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and want."
Under the a December 2007 special law governing the use of land by U.S. forces in Japan, the Japanese government permitted the continued use of some 16,500 square meters of land by U.S. forces against the will of many Okinawan landowners. The land lots comprising this total include those of Futenma base and Naha port.Consequently, the 144 plaintiffs, who own about 13,000 square meters, or 78 percent, of the land, filed the suit in June 2008.

They argued that the 2007 government decision must be repealed, saying that the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan violates the Constitution, which bans the country from engaging in aggressive military violence.

They also claimed that both the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the Special Law on land use violate the Japanese Constitution.

Among the plaintiffs is Yoichi Iha, mayor of Ginowan city, where U.S. Marines use contested land for the Futenma base. The other 143 include eleven "antiwar landlords" who do not want their land to be used to support aggressive military violence and 133 supporters who each own a small lot of land.

The antiwar landlords own .27% of the Futenma base which covers an area of 4.8 million square meters of land, according to the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau, which handles affairs related to U.S. forces and Japan's Self-Defense Forces.
One of the antiwar landlords also owns a 113-square-meter land plot at Naha port facilities managed by the U.S. Army.


Drea said...

Wow this sounds familiar. My heart goes out to these landowners and their future generations.

TenThousandThings said...

It's astoundingly unfair and undemocratic.