Okinawan scholars and journalists demand stop to new US base construction in Henoko
September 26, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
On September 25, 25 scholars, journalists and Okinawa-based peace advocates announced an emergency statement seeking cancellation of construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago. This base would replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan City. They sent the statement to President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The statement also asks the governments of Japan and the United States to immediately close the Futenma base without conditions, such as moving the base within Okinawa.
Masaaki Gabe, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus, Seigen Miyasato, a political scholar and advisor of the Okinawa External Affairs Study Group, Moriteru Arasaki, former president of Okinawa University and Akiko Yui, former editor in chief of the Okinawa Times, held a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office on the same day. They announced the statement, highlighting its key points such as; “the construction of a new US Marine Corps Air Station in Henoko will lock Okinawa into being a permanent, major US military base in the future.” They suggested that the disproportionate concentration of the US military bases in Okinawa is against the Charter of the United Nations.
Gabe said, “We would like many people to read the statement and think about the problems caused by the construction of the military base.”
Arasaki said, “We want the younger generations to know more about the base construction in Henoko.” They plan to create teaching materials for people to gain basic knowledge on the issue.
The Okinawa External Affairs Study Group will hold a symposium on the issue of the construction of a new US base in Henoko at the Okinawa International University at 2 p.m. on October 18.
(English translation by T&CT)
Emergency statement calling for an end to forcible surveys for the construction of the US military airfield in Henoko and the cancellation of the relocation plan.
The statement published by scholars and peace advocates in Okinawa follows:
President Barack Obama
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy
Immediately stop forced surveys towards the construction of the United States Marine Corps air base in Henoko and scrap the plan to build a replacement facility for the Futenma base
September 25, 2014
We cannot accept the construction of a new US Marine Corps Air Station in Henoko that will lock Okinawa into being a permanent, major US military base in the future.
The residents of Okinawa should be treated as fairly as those who live in the mainland of Japan and the United States.
Nevertheless, the Governments of Japan and the United States have forced sacrifice on and discriminated against the Okinawan people for many years. Even now, the governments are still oppressing the people’s resistance, showing an authoritarian attitude towards opposition to the disproportionate concentration of the US military bases in Okinawa. Such action by these democratic governments is against the spirit of the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the Constitution of Japan.
Their action goes against the Charter of the United Nations, in which the signatories of the United Nations acted to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person.
The landfill project in Henoko is a grave error because it undermines democracy, and it will destroy the main habitat of an endangered species, the dugong. The United States will lose credibility with the international community, if it joins Japan in wiping out the dugong and drastically compromising the biodiverse environment of Yambaru (the northern part of Okinawa) in order to build a new air base.
Drumming up public fear, the Japanese government has used the dispute with China over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, to justify permanently fixing the US Marine presence in Okinawa and increasing their access to the land and sea. It has argued the new base will play a role in deterring China, and that the MV-22 Osprey aircraft will help defend the islands. However, these assertions are unsubstantiated in both military and diplomatic terms. Since the end of World War Two, the United States government has consistently taken a neutral stance on sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands. Under pressure to reduce the national defence budget, the US military intends to gain funding from the Japanese government in its plan to transfer Marines from Okinawa to Guam, arguing the US marines play a role in defending the Senkaku Islands.
The presence of the US Marines on Okinawa is not deterrence. The effectiveness of the deterrence effect of the US forces depends on the willingness of the United States to defend Japan, and on US air and sea capabilities – not the marine force. The deterrence effect also depends on how the leaders and people of the nations at which deterrence is targeted evaluate the presence of the US Marines on Okinawa.
In extreme situations such as an armed conflict between Japan and China on or near the Senkaku Islands, Japan must have first responsibility for defense of the region, and then the United States will employ its sea and air power to support Japan. There is no benefit in the United States military sending the US Marines to the islands. If an armed conflict should happen in the region, this will only serve to catastrophically damage the economy and safety of the world, not only affecting Japan, China and the United States. The three countries should at least build a consultation mechanism to avoid unexpected armed conflicts. First, Japan and China should strive to reduce the growing distrust and conflict between the two countries. We would like the leaders of the two countries and Taiwan, to make diplomatic efforts to create peace in the East China Sea.
US Air Force Base Kadena and its ammunition depot have 1.7 times of the total area of the six major US bases in the main islands of Japan including Yokota, Atsugi, Misawa, Yokosuka, Sasebo and Iwakuni. Furthermore, the US Marine Corps Bases including Futenma Air Station in Okinawa occupy an area more than three times that of the Kadena Air Base. The excessive concentration of the US bases in Okinawa is an unbearable burden for Japan’s 44th smallest prefecture. People living in Okinawa would finally feel that the base burden has been reduced somewhat, if the marines were to withdraw from Okinawa.
We demand that the governments of Japan and the United States take the following measures:
1) Immediately stop survey works for the plan to build a new air base for the United States Marine Corps in Henoko in Nago, and abandon the relocation plan.
2) Immediately close the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and return its land to the landowners without the condition of relocating its facilities inside Okinawa.
3) We urge the Japanese government to; work on protection measures for rare species and the natural environment of the northern areas of Okinawa, including Henoko, Oura Bay and Takae; and apply for the inclusion of the Amami and Ryukyu islands on UNESCO’s provisional list of candidates for World Heritage sites. We would like the governments of Japan and the United States to listen to the recommendations on protecting endangered species in the areas of Henoko, Oura Bay and Takae, made repeatedly by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
On behalf of the advocates.
Nariyuki AGARIE Osamu ARAKAKI Kiyoko OHSHIRO Tatsuhiro OHSHIRO Akihiko KATO Kunitoshi SAKURAI Manabu SATO SuzuyoTAKAZATO Tomokazu TAKAMINE Hiroshi NAKACHI
Tatsuhiro HIGA Mikio HIGA Eiichi HOSHINO Taizan MAEZATO Takeshi MIKI Akiya MIYAZATO Kimiko MIYAGI Hiroshi MIYATA Tateki YAFUSO Masako YAFUSO TomohiroYARA Akiko YUI
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