Friday, September 23, 2011

Yoshio Shimoji: Futenma must be returned unconditionally

Futenma Air Station occupies 25% of densely populated Ginowan City. The U.S. Marines are storing nuclear waste from Fukushima at Futenma (and other bases in Japan). (Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal))
Futenma must be returned unconditionally
Yoshio Shimoji
June 22, 2011
Naha, Okinawa

At the two-plus-two meeting held in Washington on June 21,2011 the two sides (Tokyo and Washington) reconfirmed the 2006 Roadmap which stipulated that an air station with V-shaped runways would be built on reclaimed land off the coast of Henoko District in northern Okinawa. This is what I would call a base laundering tactic similar to money laundering because the relocation is an attempt on the part of the U.S. side to hide the dirty nature of the Futenma air base.

Jon Mitchell writes in his recent article in the Japan Times: "With all of Okinawa under U.S. administration, the authorities started by tricking the landowners (in Iejima) into signing voluntary evacuation papers... But then, when some families refused to leave, 300 U.S. soldiers with rifles and bulldozers dragged women and children from their beds, tore down their homes and slaughtered their goats." ("Iejima: an island of resistance," May 22, 2011 The Japan Times)

But Iejima was only a precursor of forceful land expropriations by the U.S. military at bayonet point and by bulldozer to expand their already-existing bases in Okinawa during the 1950's Okinawa. Following Iejima came Isahama located now in Ginowan City (Camp Foster) and Gushi in Oroku (now incorporated into Naha City) (Naha Air Base, formerly operated by the U.S. Air Force, currently by SDAF). Futenma had already been turned into a forward operating base for the U.S. Marine Aviation Squadron to attack mainland Japan in 1945.

The Marine Corps says when the base was built, there was nothing in the area where Futenma now sits except for barren wilderness. But that's not true. There were five idyllic villages there before the war: Ginowan, Kamiyama, Nakahara, Maehara and Aragusuku, all ravaged during the Battle of Okinawa and then all the landowners were forced to move outside of the fences after the war, moving to areas that eventual became integral parts (districts) of today's Ginowan City. Their former villages were swallowed up into the Marine air base with a 2,700-meter runway, together with rich farmland. The Futenma village, after which the base was named, was located just outside of the encroached-upon land and so narrowly escaped the ill fate of the incorporation into the base.

If U.S. policy planners feel no qualms of conscience about the dark history of those U.S. bases in Okinawa, then they are real villains and villainesses with no human mind. I believe that that explains why they can brazenly demand a quid pro quo for Futenma's facilities to be built in Henoko, with all the expenses footed by Japanese taxpayers (Okinawa residents included).

Futenma must be closed down immediately with no strings attached. The U.S. has no inherent right at all to keep holding the base.Mr. Shimoji's "The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: An Okinawan Perspective" was published at The Asia Pacific Journal earlier this year.

His letter letter, "How dare Obama ask Hatoyama to act without regard to democratic process in Okinawa?" was published at the The New York Times on May 28, 201javascript:void(0)0, and his article, "'Thanks' Doesn't Allay Okinawans," was published on July 11, 2010, at The Japan Times.

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