Friday, September 23, 2011

Yoshio Shimoji: U.S. military seizure of private property in Okinawa was a violation of the Hague Convention

Futenma cannot be relocated to Henoko
Yoshio Shimoji
August 15, 2011
Naha, Okinawa

In their recent telephone conference ("Kitazawa, Panetta agree on Futenma," July 17, 2011 The Japan Times), Japan's Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and the newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed "that Tokyo and Washington will move forward with the plan to relocate the controversial Futenma base within Okinawa."

Futenma was constructed toward the end of WW II with an aim of attacking mainland Japan by B-29's in order to end the war quickly. But the war ended before that plan was actually carried out. Futenma should have been returned at that point; instead, it has continued to be in the firm grip of the U.S. military all these years to this day.

The area where Futenma Air Station sits was rich with water resources and so rice paddies were the main features of the farmland around here. Along a beautiful pine tree-lined highway were the villages of Ginowan, Kamiyama, Nakahara, Maehara and Aragusuku, of which Ginowan was the largest with houses and stores galore, where public facilities like a post office, a school (Ginowan Elementary School) and the village office, were located.

Evidently, the U.S. military seized the land in clear violation of Article 46 of the Hague Convention, which states: "Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated."

The illegality of Futenma would not disappear even if it were to be moved to Henoko or anywhere else in Okinawa just like dirty money would not become clean how many times it might undergo laundering.

Both Kitazawa and Panetta must realize this and search for an alternative solution, that is, to move it outside of Okinawa, most preferably, to the U.S. mainland.

Aerial photograph of beautiful, biodiverse Cape Henoko which the U.S. Marines want to destroy to make way for a mega-base. (Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

(The blueprint for a new air station, a military port, and a pier, from the Master Plan of U.S. Navy Facilities on Okinawa, 1966. Image: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

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