Saturday, July 10, 2010

Okinawa's Prefectural Assembly calls for revision of Japan-U.S. agreement to build a new base in Okinawa

From Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre, Okinawa's Prefectural Assembly Calls for Revision of Japan-U.S. Agreement to Build a New Base in Okinawa:
On July 9, Okinawa Prefectural Assembly unanimously (except two who left) adopted a resolution to call for a revision of the joint statement by the U.S. and Japanese governments on May 28, 2010, in which the two governments confirmed their intention to build a "Futenma replacement" base in Henoko, Okinawa.

Summary of the above-mentioned Ryukyu Shimpo's editorial:

The resolution calls the Japan-U.S. Joint Statement "an act of violence that tramples democracy," and "one that ridicules Okinawans."

The anger in the resolution is only natural. The Prefectural Assembly in February passed an unanimous resolution calling for swift closure of Futenma Air Station and opposing construction of a "replacement" base in Henoko, but it was totally ignored by former Prime Minister Hatoyama.

The anger of the Prefectural Assembly is directed against new Prime Minister Kan, who unscrupulously inherited Hatoyama's irresponsible "Japan-U.S. agreement."

The resolution also protests Kan's statement of "apology and gratitude for Okinawa's burden" at the Battle of Okinawa memorial ceremony on June 23, saying it was "an act that paid no consideration to the feeling of Okinawans."

Prime Minister Kan attempts to impose further base burden on Okinawans. If he had any heart for making that apology, he should cancel that imposition. That would be the only right thing to do.

Kan, in his policy speech in June, stressed on the "realization of relocation and closure of Futenma Base, and transfer of components of U.S. Marines to Guam." The bilateral agreement specifies the relocation of "8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members," but the most important information is missing, which is how many Marines will be left in Okinawa.

According to Okinawa prefecture's statistics at the end of September, 2009, the number of Marines stationed in Okinawa was 14,958, and that of the family members was 9,035. In theory, the number of Marines remaining in Okinawa after the Guam transfer would be approximately 7,000, with no family members remaining. However, according to research by Ginowan Mayor Iha, "the majority of Okinawa Marines have been dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan, and there are actually less than 5,000 Marines in Okinawa."

For the past seven years, the number of military personnel in Okinawa, including family members, has decreased by more than 10,000, from 50,000 (2003) to 40,000(2008).

So what is the rationale for transferring 8,000 Marines? Hatoyama, in his visit to Okinawa on May 4, said, "The more I learned, the more the deterrence effect of U.S. Marines I came to understand." The reality is, if one starts to "learn" anything, one will quickly discover that the bilateral agreement is full of contradictions.
Kyodo also reported on the Okinawan prefectural resolution in "Okinawa resolution calls for review of Japan-U.S. Futenma statement":
The Okinawa prefectural assembly on Friday called on the Japanese and U.S. governments to review the joint bilateral statement promising to move a controversial U.S. Marine base within the prefecture largely in line with a previous agreement between them.

The opinion sheet and resolution adopted by the assembly charge that the statement was issued "over the heads of" the people in the prefecture, against their consensus that they oppose relocating the Futenma Air Station within Okinawa.

The opinion sheet, addressed to Cabinet ministers including Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and the resolution, addressed to several others like U.S. President Barack Obama, note that the April mass rally in which organizers say 90,000 people protested the planned relocation "clearly shows" that the islanders want the prefecture to be free of U.S. military bases.

Of the resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month thanking the Japanese, especially those in Okinawa, for continuing to host U.S. forces, the documents say, "That was an act borne out of their insufficient understanding of the feelings of the people in the prefecture and has enraged them."

At a news conference on the same day, Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima suggested that the base should not be forcibly relocated over the opposition among local people, noting that Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine opposes Futenma's relocation from Ginowan to a coastal area of his city under the bilateral agreement.

"The Nago mayor is against it. The only way to overcome it is to employ bulldozers, guns and swords, but I don't think they can do it," Nakaima said, referring to the United States' construction of military facilities in Okinawa while it was under U.S. control.

In the joint statement issued on May 28, Japan and the United States confirmed "the intention to locate the replacement facility at the Camp Schwab Henoko-saki area and adjacent waters" and that they decided to complete a study by experts on its "location, configuration and construction any event no later than the end of August."

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who had once vowed to seek Futenma's relocation "at least outside of the prefecture," resigned days after the announcement.

No comments: