Thursday, October 27, 2011

Yoshio Shimoji: U.S. violated human rights & property rights under int. law in seizure of Okinawan property for U.S. bases

(U.S. military bases located on property belonging to more than 40,000 Okinawan landowners)

In “Futenma: Tip of the Iceberg in Okinawa’s Agony," his latest article for The Asia-Pacific Journal, University of the Ryukyus Professor Emeritus Yoshio Shimoji focuses on the root of Okinawan resentment against U.S. military bases on their islands: The U.S. violated human rights and property rights under international law when the U.S. military seized Okinawan property by force to make way for U.S. bases.

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

"There are presently more than 3,000 so-called “military base landowners” for Futenma Air Base alone and more than 40,000 for all bases and installations in Okinawa."

Shimoji details how U.S. bases in Okinawa were established by "land requisitions...executed at bayonet-point and by bulldozer, leveling houses and destroying farms in the face of protesting farmers, mothers, children and their supporters."
When they were finally freed and allowed to return home, they found that their villages and rich farmland had disappeared without a trace, incorporated within a vast air base. Reluctantly, they settled down outside the fenced-off compound in areas designated by the U.S. military as settlement areas with no regard to property rights of landowners.

Iha Yoichi, former Ginowan City Mayor and a native of Ginowan Village (now Ginowan City), writes in his book (Futenma Air Base is in Your Neighborhood — Let’s Remove It Together, p.15), that “when the war was over and people were allowed to go home, they found their villages had disappeared completely, the area transformed into a vast base.”
Shimoji's conclusion: "The U.S. violated international law when its military encroached upon private lands with impunity and built the base. On what legal and moral basis, then, can it demand its replacement?"

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