Okinawans Reject New US Air Base, Call It ‘Base Laundry’

Note: Popular Resistance will be following the fight against the new US military base in Henoko in Okinawa, Japan more closely. The people in Okinawa are trying to stop the expansion of the US’ military domination there in any way possible. They hold daily protests.

Recently, a delegation from Okinawa visited the US to ask for more help from civil society here. We are exploring ways to do that beginning with increasing awareness of the struggle and its relationship to the Asian Pivot.  – Margaret Flowers

US To Okinawa Governor: New Base ‘Fundamental To Security’

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials told the governor of Okinawa on Wednesday that a U.S. troop presence on the Japanese island, which he opposes, is fundamental to the U.S. commitment to defend Japan.

Officials from the U.S. State and Defense Departments told Takeshi Onaga in a meeting in Washington that the United States and Japan shared “an unwavering commitment” to building a new base for U.S. Marines on the island, a State Department statement said.

“The United States’ troop presence in Okinawa is fundamental to our treaty commitment to the defense of Japan,” the statement said.

Onaga was elected governor last year largely because of his stand against U.S. bases. He and many Okinawans reject a proposal to move the U.S. Marines’ existing Futenma base to another location on the island and insist that it move off altogether.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma base, which is in a populous area. But plans to move it stalled because of opposition from residents, many of whom associate U.S. bases with noise, pollution and crime.

Okinawa residents have long resented the fact that they not only suffered a devastating land battle during World War Two but now host tens of thousands of U.S. troops and U.S. military facilities taking up 18 percent of the island’s area.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted Onaga as saying after his State Department meeting that he had warned the U.S. officials “that the construction of a (replacement) base will not be implemented smoothly if things keep going as they currently are.”

Kyodo said he was referring to the way the Japanese government has moved ahead with preparatory work to build the new base in spite of local opposition.

Onaga said in Tokyo last month that he would tell those he met in the United States that ignoring the wishes of the Okinawan people would harm the reputation of both countries – especially in Asia, where the U.S.-Japan alliance is seen as a counter to the growing influence of China.

Response by Yoshio Shimoji in Voice of Naha City in Okinawa

okinawaOkinawa, Japan – Constructing a replacement facility for the Futenma Air Station in Henoko on northern Okinawa Island is nothing but an act of selling Japan’s sovereign soil to a foreign power. The U.S. side says that, unless Futenma is relocated to Henoko, it will remain at the current site forever. As I have repeatedly said, Futenma sits on stolen property, because the lands it sits on were confiscated illegally from private landholders.

Washington knows this well enough and wants the base to be relocated to Henoko, thus vindicating themselves across the board. This is why one can call the Henoko relocation plan “base laundry.”

If the Henoko relocation should come true, the new base will remain there forever, let alone many other bases. Okinawa will remain a U.S. military colony all the more. The dealing is thus tantamount to selling Japan’s sovereign soil to a foreign country.

So it’s beyond anyone’s comprehension why the Abe administration, instead of guarding its own people and sovereignty, is so eager to press ahead with the relocation plan. Is it because the Abe administration and the viscerally U.S.-sycophantic Defense and Foreign Affairs bureaucrats are fearful of Washington’s wrath for not following its dictation and order? Don’t they know their action is no different from an act of betrayal against not only Okinawa but also the nation as a whole?

It was puzzling then to watch counter-demonstrating right-wingers throw slanders like “traitors” against 130 Okinawa municipality heads and legislators, who went to Tokyo to make a direct appeal to the Cabinet Office, marching along a Tokyo street wearing vests imprinted with “No Deployment of MV-22 Ospreys and No Henoko Relocation” on January 27, 2013.  Who are the traitors in the true sense of the word? I wonder.