Scholars and journalists issue statement: Japan and the United States should abandon building a new US base in Henoko

Scholars and journalists issue statement: Japan and the United States should abandon building a new US base in Henoko

Okinawan scholars and civil-rights activists issue a statement asking for the governments of Japan and the United States to abandon the idea of locating a new base in Henoko in Nago. At the Okinawa Prefectural Office on January 27.


January 28, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 27, 65 scholars and journalists in Okinawa and other prefectures issued an emergency statement asking the governments of Japan and the United States to abandon their plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to Henoko in Nago, and to close the base early. This statement was made in response to Susumu Inamine’s re-election as mayor of Nago. The signers stressed that the election result was an expression of dissent towards the new base not only by the citizens of Nago, but also by the Okinawan people. They requested that the governments respect the voice of the people of Okinawa.

Seigen Miyazato, a political scientist and adviser of the Okinawa International Issues Study Group, and other signers issued the statement at a news conference held on January 27. The signers included scholars who specialize in constitutional law and political science, and journalists. They sent the statement to President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy.

Miyazato commented, “The planned facility in Henoko will be a permanent base. We cannot afford it. The people who live in Okinawa have the right to receive equal and fair treatment as citizens of the rest of Japan and the United States.”

One year ago the mayors of all 41 municipalities visited Prime Minister Abe to submit the petition to cancel the relocation plan within the prefecture. Kunitoshi Sakurai, a professor at Okinawa University, stressed, “We must rebuild an ‘All-Okinawa’ system. We have the common ground that we will decide the future of the region for ourselves.” Masaaki Gabe, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus, Tateki Yafuso, a former professor of the University of the Ryukyus and Masako Yafuso, a board member of the Okinawa Human Rights Association, attended the news conference.

Statement regarding on the US Futenma relocation issue
To:

President Barack Obama
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy

The election result was an expression of dissent against a new base not only by the citizens of Nago but by the Okinawan people in general. This reconfirmed that it is the will of the people that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma be moved outside of Okinawa.

This stance is unchanged since March 1996 when the governments of Japan and the United States agreed that they would relocate Futenma Air Station within the prefecture and close the base. Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine and Nago Mayor Tateo Kishimoto set strict terms when they accepted the relocation of the base within Okinawa. The leaders of Okinawa and Nago publicly stated that they would not accept the government’s plan if these conditions were not met.

Why did Japan and the United States agree to close Futenma Air Station? It is because they understand the serious risk posed by a base that is located in the middle of a residential area. Aircraft operate flying directly above local Okinawan people. This dangerous situation has not changed. The incident in which a U.S. Marine helicopter crashed onto the campus of Okinawa International University in August 2004 highlighted the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station.

The reality of the past 18 years suggests that there is no place to move this dangerous air station within the confined space of islands that host an excessive number of U.S. military bases. Therefore, the Okinawa people have not approved the relocation plan by the central government. The result of the Nago mayoral election shows that replacing Futenma within Okinawa is unrealistic.

The will of the Nago and Okinawan people who have rejected building a new U.S. base in Henoko was shown clearly in the mayoral election. If the governments of Japan and the United States choose to ignore the will of the people and bulldoze through the procedures for the landfill to construct the new base, it will not only plunge Okinawa into turmoil, but will also cause serious damage to the US-Japan relationship. This may adversely affect peace and stability in the Asia- Pacific region.

We demand that the governments of Japan and the United State take the following measures:

1. The governments should abandon the plan to build a new base in Henoko in Nago.

2. The governments should cancel the procedures for landfill for building a new base to replace the functions of the Futenma base.

3. The governments should close Futenma Air Station swiftly and return its land.

In addition, we request that the governments implement measures to resolve the problems as soon as possible through until the closure of the dangerous Futenma Air Station. Despite the agreement between Japan and the United States in 1996,

these matters have been left unresolved.

The issues to be resolved are as follows:

1. The governments should significantly reduce the frequency of take offs and landings at Futenma Air Station.

2. The governments should allow the Okinawan people to carry out inspections within Futenma and other bases for environmental research in preparation for returning the land used by U.S. military.

3. Allow inspections in all the U.S. military bases in order to protect the environment for the future.

On January 27, 2014

(English translation by T&CT)

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