Bankoku Shinryo Conference proposes bringing attention to reducing base burden on Okinawa

Bankoku Shinryo Conference proposes bringing attention to reducing base burden on Okinawa

On March 31 at the Okinawa Harborview Hotel, Chairman Kyoji Yanagisawa of the Bankoku Shinryo Conference delivers the Conference's proposal to Governor Denny Tamaki (right).

March 31, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On March 31 the Bankoku Shinryo Conference on U.S. Military Base Issues (Bankoku Shinryo, meaning: bridge between nations) delivered its proposal for reducing the base burden on Okinawa, which includes the compiled discussions of the Conference from FY2020, to Governor Denny Tamaki. This Conference is an assembly of experts established by the Okinawa prefectural government (OPG). The proposal emphasizes the necessity of bringing public attention to the topics of alleviating U.S.-China antagonism and reducing the base burden on Okinawa. This proposal is the second sequential proposal since FY2019 and contains a strong request for spreading information, especially from the OPG, taking into account the new circumstances entering this fiscal year.

Bankoku Shinryo Conference Chairman Kyoji Yanagisawa (former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary) delivered this proposal to Governor Tamaki on March 31 at the Okinawa Harborview Hotel. Governor Tamaki replied that he wants to analyze the proposal and make certain that it is soon reflected in prefectural policy. Based on the proposal, he expressed interest in the idea of cooperating with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki prefectural governments to spread peace.

Chairman Yanagisawa said, “In Governor Denny Tamaki’s decision as a politician, I hope to see a stance for publicizing the move toward reduction of the base burden on Okinawa. The factors supporting this principle are incorporated in the proposal.”

As concerns the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City, the proposal expresses that Henoko is not “the sole solution” but rather “an extremely unlikely choice” based on the particulars posed by design changes from Japan’s government regarding improvement of soft ground. The proposal also emphasizes that the construction at Henoko should cease immediately, and requests that Japan’s government discuss, with the U.S. government and the OPG, policies for removing the dangers of Futenma Air Station and ceasing the use thereof without involving construction at Henoko.

The proposal contains recognition of the fact that the US military, which is rolling out a new strategic plan as antagonism between the US and China intensifies in the background, considers Okinawa as an important military position. On top of this, the proposal highlights the importance of the OPG and Japanese government making certain that public opinion in favor of reducing the burden on local populations is reflected in their policies.

Although the necessity of drastically revising the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement is thrown into relief as training exercises by the U.S. military increasingly intensify nationwide, the proposal raises the topic of concluding agreements, concerning U.S. military use of military bases, with local defense bureaus as a means for granting capability to the localities that host military bases. The proposal includes a specific example of such and provides a sample agreement.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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