US commander claims protesters against helipad construction being paid-off

US commander claims protesters against helipad construction being paid-off

Tim Kao, the camp commander of the Northern Training Area (NTA) talked to Tamaru and Karnell. In front of the NTA near Takae in Higashi Village (Photograph provided by Masayuki Tamaru).

February 13, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government of Japan is building U.S. helipads within the Northern Training Area (NTA) near Takae to return a part of the training area to landowners based on an agreement between Japan and the United States. Local citizens have been protesting against the construction because they fear it will badly influence their livelihoods and natural environment.

Tim Kao, the camp commander of the NTA said some of the protestors were not actually passionate about the cause but were, “just there because they are getting paid to be there.” His claim, revealed to the media on February 12, runs counter to the truth.

Meanwhile, Capt. Caleb D. Eames, deputy public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Installations Pacific, also made a false and inappropriate comment.

He said reports of Henoko protesters being injured due to excessive force used by Japan Coast Guard officers were “laughable.” These remarks show that disregard for Okinawa’s legitimate objection to democratically opposed base construction is prevalent among top officials of the U.S Marine Corps in Okinawa.

Kao’s remark was made on February 5 in front of N 4 gate where one of the new helipads is located. He spoke to Masayuki Tamaru of the Association of Residents Against the Helipad, and Stockholm University graduate Mattias Karnell.

According to Tamaru and Karnell, Kao claimed some citizens involved in the protest get paid by “elements in Tokyo” and are not actually passionate about the cause.
Tamaru denied the claim, saying, “We are protesting at our own financial expense. I am surprised the U.S military is indoctrinating its personnel to believe false information.”

Kao also talked about Takeshi Onaga, who has pledged to oppose construction of U.S base facilities, which includes building helipads, winning the gubernatorial election last year. He claimed that it is peculiar that a democratic process has led to a communist party-backed politician becoming Okinawa governor, asserting that Okinawa’s communist party, including the local city councilman, does not support democracy, freedom and liberty in Okinawa. These comments are inaccurate and an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the election outcome, and the integrity of Okinawan politicians.

While the Ryukyu Shimpo reporter tried to get a further explanation from Kao about his remarks, Kao did not answer questions and left in his car.

(English translation by T&CT)

A list of inappropriate remarks made by top officials of U.S military and government.

◎In September, 1995, three U.S. servicemen from Camp Hansen on Okinawa kidnapped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. They beat her, duct-taped her eyes and mouth shut, and bound her hands. Two of them then raped her.
U.S. Navy Admiral Richard C. Macke was the commander of United States Pacific Command at the time of the attack. At a press conference in November, Macke said of the men’s actions: “I think it was absolutely stupid. I have said several times: for the price they paid to rent the car [used in the crime], they could have had a girl [prostitute].”

◎While serving as commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force in February 2001, General Hailston drafted an email to 13 USMC officers in which he called the local Okinawa officials, including then Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine, “all nuts and a bunch of wimps.” The email followed a January 2001 incident where a Marine was arrested for lifting up the dress of an Okinawan schoolgirl and the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly unanimously resolved to demand for a reduction in the number of marines in Okinawa.

◎In December 2010, Kevin Maher, from the then State Department’s Office of Japan Affairs gave a lecture to students of the American University in Washington. Maher was quoted as saying, “Okinawans are masters of manipulation and extortion of Tokyo.”

◎In August, 2014, a Canadian-based Peace Philosophy Center visited Alfred Magleby, U.S. Consul General of Naha, Okinawa in order to submit signatures from foreign experts endorsing a declaration to oppose the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base to Henoko. It is reported that Magleby, in remarks toward Satoko Norimatsu, the director of the peace group Peace Philosophy Center, and (some of its) members, stated that “the number of protesters (to a new military base) in Okinawa can be zero or 100-productive dialogue isn’t possible.”

◎In January 2015, Capt. Caleb D. Eames, deputy public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Installations Pacific, talked about protesters opposing construction of a new base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Henoko, Nago being injured by excessive actions of officers of the Japan Coast Guard. In his e-mail to journalist Jon Mitchell, Eames likened demonstrators to play-acting professional soccer players: “The attempt to appear injured is laughable when you see it in person,” he said.

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