Okinawan leaders hand a petition to Prime Minister Abe requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden

Okinawan leaders hand a petition to Prime Minister Abe requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden

In the morning on January 28, at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, who is co-leader of the executive committee, hands the petition to Prime Minister Abe (right) (Photograph provided by the executive committee).

January 29, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 28, the mayors of the municipalities in Okinawa and representatives of the protest rally executive committee visited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence to give him a petition requesting that the U.S. and Japanese governments rescind the deployment of the Osprey aircraft and abandon the idea of relocating the facilities at Futenma Air Station somewhere within the prefecture. About 30 people, including Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga and Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, were in the delegation. According to Onaga, Abe, who took receipt of the petition which bears the signatures from the mayors of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the chairmen of the various assemblies, said, “There are aspects that I need to think about. Lending an ear to the opinion of the Okinawan people as I go, I would like to do my best to ease Okinawa’s burden of hosting U.S. military bases.”

The Okinawan leaders asked Abe to resolve the base issues, telling him that the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution to oppose the deployment of the Osprey and demanded that the relocation of Futenma Air Station be to somewhere outside the prefecture. They also told the Prime Minister that the mayors of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa supported this position. Abe did not specifically refer to the issues of the Osprey or the relocation of Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa.

Onaga talked to the press after the meeting with Abe, saying, “It was significant that Prime Minister Abe took time from his busy schedule to meet us.” Onaga went on to say, “We want the central government to show good faith in its attempts to ease Okinawa’s base-hosting burden.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also attended the meeting.

The mayors and chairmen separated into five groups to visit the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Defense, Cabinet Office and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
The petition states that the deployment of the accident-prone Osprey aircraft to Okinawa is nothing less than an act of discrimination against the people of Okinawa. It further pointed out that the U.S. military treats the prefecture as occupied territory even though Okinawa has marked the 40th anniversary of its reversion to Japanese sovereignty from U.S. control, and that the base issues are a challenge to the sovereignty of the people in Japan and to the status of Japan as a democratic nation.

Okinawan leaders handed over the petition attached to the paper bearing the signatures of the mayors of all 41 municipalities of Okinawa, the representatives of the Mayor Association, Town and Village Assemblies, Chairman’s Council of the Municipal Assembly, the Chairman’s Council of the Town and Village Assembly, various parties in the Prefectural Assembly, and the rally executive committee.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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The Okinawa Prefectural Citizens’ Rally Against Osprey Deployment was held on September 9, 2012 to protest with indignation against the forceful deployment of the aircraft and to call for the withdrawal of the deployment plans. More than 100,000 citizens participated in the rally.

However, the governments of Japan and the United States trampled down the collective will of the people of Okinawa and forcefully deployed Osprey planes on October 1, only less than a month after the rally.

Due to the presence of the U.S. Forces’ bases, Okinawa prefecture has been imposed with a multitude of damages related to the military facilities. Looking just at the years since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, the number of criminal cases involving U.S. service members, civilians and their family members has reached close to 6,000.

As people of Okinawa have taken every opportunity to explain the situation where incidents, accidents, and noise damage related to the U.S. Forces persist, the Japanese government must be duly aware of the situation. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in particular, remains in the middle of a residential area, threatening lives and properties of Okinawan people. The governments of Japan and the United States must be aware that the air station is the most dangerous one in the world.

It is outright discrimination against Okinawans to deploy to the dangerous air station the unsafe Osprey which has had repeated accidents since its development stages and has caused a large number of fatalities. In the continental U.S. and Hawaii, trainings have been suspended after giving consideration to the residents’ concern over noise pollution.

Since the deployment in October and November, during these two months, more than 300 flights violating the Japan-U.S. safety agreement have been witnessed during the observation conducted by the prefecture and municipalities. It makes us believe that the agreement has already failed.

Furthermore, it was revealed that the remaining 12 Osprey aircraft in the U.S. Forces’ plan will be deployed to the MCAS Futenma by July this year. The special operation transport aircraft CV-22 will also be deployed to Kadena Air Base between 2014 and 2016. Such plans are outrageous.

The Ospreys were deployed to Okinawa in the year the prefecture celebrated its 40th anniversary of the reversion to Japan. We hope for the steady progress of Japan as members of the country, while preserving Okinawa’s own history and culture which have been passed on since the time Okinawa was called Ryukyu.
Forty years after the reversion, the U.S. Forces continue to be arrogant as if Okinawa is still under their occupation. Japan’s national sovereignty is being challenged.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,

We request you to re-examine the situation of Okinawa and implement measures to realize the united call of its people for alleviation of the burden of hosting the U.S. military bases.

This petition for the below requests is hereby presented by the Executive Committee for the Okinawa Prefectural Citizens’ Rally Against Osprey Deployment, Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, municipalities and municipal assemblies.

1. Immediately revoke the deployment of Osprey and call off the deployment of the additional 12 aircraft slated by July this year. Also, immediately withdraw the plan to deploy the special operation transportation aircraft CV-22 Osprey to Kadena Air Base.

2. Close and remove MCAS Futenma, and renounce the plan to relocate it within the prefecture.

Go to Japanese


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