Opposition leader Itokazu visits the U.S. to request cancellation of Henoko landfill

Opposition leader Itokazu visits the U.S. to request cancellation of Henoko landfill

Keiko Itokazu (left), a member of the Upper House, and Peter Kuznick (right), professor of history at American University and other members hold a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, on January 29.

January 31, 2014 Ryota Shimabukuro of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

On January 29, Keiko Itokazu, a member of the Upper House and a leader among the anti-U.S. base movement, and Naha City councilors held a news conference in Washington D.C. They spoke about their direct appeal to the American people and their political leaders. The members from Okinawa met Jim Webb, a former senator and Secretary of the Navy who, when in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, led the review of the plan to relocate U.S. Futenma Air Station to Henoko. The former senator underscored that he did not agree with the Henoko plan. The governments of Japan and the United States insist that the plan is the only way to resolve the issue. He also said that if Okinawa Governor were to ask him for advice, he would offer to be a mediator for talks on the realignment plan among Okinawa and Guam, which are the interested parties, and the governments of the United States and Japan.

Itokazu and other members exchanged opinions with the officials of the United States Government, lawmakers and legislators, and researchers of think tanks. Many of the interviewees suggested that moving the Futenma base to Henoko was only way to avoid keeping the base as it is. However, the members from Okinawa asserted that the Okinawan people would not accept building a new base and that the governments of the United States and Japan should propose another option to resolve the issue. Peter Kuznick, a professor of history at American University and John Feffer, a representative of a think tank attended the news conference.

Kuznick is an initial signer of the statement by the international scholars and peace advocates opposing the construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko. He said, “The New York Times noted that there were three players of the United States, Japan and Okinawa in this drama, the Futenma issue. I want to add a fourth player, the international community.” Feffer pointed out that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma could be closed without relocation, because the troops will be redistributed to Hawaii, Guam and Australia.

Itokozu commented, “We were worried about the mistaken message on the landfill approval by Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. Anyway, we could tell the people in Washington D.C. about the re-election of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who opposes building a new base.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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