Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oé says "Downsize Okinawa US bases"



Oé Kenzaburo at 1994 Literature Nobel price (R)

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the automatic ratification of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, without the approval of the House of Councillors, amid demonstrators surrounding the Diet building. More news here http://bit.ly/bfkWPz

Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature, on Saturday called for reducing U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture and establishing amicable ties with other nations, particularly with China and also with the United States, in accordance with the ideal of the pacifist Constitution.

Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature, was speaking at a meeting of the (Constitution) Article 9 Association in Tokyo on June 19, 2010. The meeting was held on the 50th anniversary of the automatic enactment of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty on June 19, 1960.


The Henoko dilemma

75% of the US military bases located in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa. 20% of the land of Okinawa is occupied for the US military bases. The U.S. Marine Corp Futenma Air Facility is in the middle of the city of Ginowan in the central part of Okinawa Island, it has a 2,800-meter runway, it occupies 480 hectares, or 24.5%, of Ginowan City. U.S. and Japanese governments, instead of removing the base from Okinawa altogether as activists expected from the Hatoyama administration, are planning to build a replacement for it offshore from the fishing town of Henoko, in Nago City in the northern part of the island.

As Japan Times wrote June 9th 2010 from Nago, Okinawa: "People in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, have mixed feelings about the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to their shores. They worry about noise pollution and the danger of accidents but at the same time keenly feel economic measures are necessary to revive the depopulated area's fortunes. They meanwhile expect little from new Prime Minister Nato Kan and his Cabinet, which replaced the Yukio Hatoyama administration that stepped down last week, smarting from a failed effort to resolve the base relocation row."

We went to Henoko and met many people who were born and grew up in Henoko and don't want to talk about the base issue because the subject divides community. Many oppose the relocation, saying the runway and construction would destroy the rich coastal beauty and wouldn't benefit Okinawaians' children and later generations.

The Futenma Marine Corps relocation issue remains high on the local and national political agenda for the Upper House July 11th election, this Henoko area is the stage for demonstrators and activists who "occupy" the beach nearby the Marines camp ands sometimes invite visitors off shore while the Japanese SDF controls the sea and the air making difficult such a report. But, actually and in spite of all the interdictions, 2 brave reporters could access the area.

VDO Henoko

video
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Deterrence

Among media attention on Okinawa for instance in the Japan Times who titles today with "Japanese ex-marine strives to debunk deterrence 'myth'. " Quotes: "A Japanese man with the unusual background of having served in the U.S. Marine Corps is using his experience to vigorously campaign against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Kimitoshi Takanashi, 38, joined the marines in his 20s and once served in Okinawa during his four-year career in the U.S. military. The sharp-eyed man, sporting a Mohawk hairdo, has a muscular build that hardly looks like the body of a man nearing 40. On his right arm are tattooed the words, "KILL 'EM ALL." Here http://bit.ly/c8xaq4


Media buzz on Okinawa

In a commentary, the Stars and Stripes writes that a "Futenma fight could linger despite Japan's new prime minister." Quotes: "To many, the fight over Futenma feels like forever. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of Marines in Okinawa. To date, 8,600 Marines are slated to move from Okinawa to Guam starting in 2014. For Japan, the real task involves helping Japan’s poorest and most politically expendable prefecture without weakening ties with the country’s protector, the United States. That remains daunting. “I don’t think Mr. Kan himself has a solution,” said Tetsuo Maeda, a military expert who teaches at Okinawa University. But there are longer-term plans that, some say, could appease Okinawa. Moving more U.S. training exercises on Okinawa to Japan Self-Defense Force bases would be a step in the right direction, many say. Reducing military flights, executing and promoting more joint security strategies, and publicly tackling other non-base security issues, like piracy concerns in international trading waters, could help.

National leaders should look to bolster the prefecture’s main industry, tourism, according to Toshiyuki Shikata, a professor at Teikyo University and retired Japan Ground Self-Defense Force lieutenant general. Lowering the federal sales tax for the prefecture, for example, would draw more visitors and help local residents, he said. The United States should consider more-inclusive basing options, such as sharing more bases with the Japanese, even moving some under the control of the Japan forces. Making the new base at Henoko a Self-Defense Forces air base might be easier for Okinawans to take, some said. “We should be thinking of how to have the host nation take the lead,” Smith said. “These kinds of identity questions will be more a part of the questions. This isn’t ‘Yankee, go home.’ It’s about recalculation and rebalancing the U.S. presence.” End of quotes.


Also a fresh reminder on the Futenma issue with the post on the excellent NBR forum thread about "the Futenma and the Media" by Rod Armstrong. Internet information free access http://bit.ly/c7ciuX

Quotes: " Professor Green, the former Bush Administration NSC Japan adviser, still thinks he can get the Japanese to implement Henoko. His scenario calls for the axing of another Japanese prime minister: Kan refuses to pass a special law overriding the Okinawan governor's refusal to implement Henoko, and the DPJ, free now of its SDP left-wingers, would support its "defense realists" led by Maehara as they split in disgust with Kan's pusillanimity and implement the Henoko project.

The first part of this loopy scenario has come to pass: Mr. Kan announced that he has no intention of submitting a special law overriding a Governor's rejection of the project. But Mr. Maehara seems to have preserved his equanimity. Although it is possible that he is seething with repressed anger at his party's failure to assist the Americans, I think Mr. Maehara is a more canny politician than that. In any case, he would not have the votes to take over the DPJ, and the mind boggles at the number of alliances and combinations he would have to make to try to fashion a new opposition party out of the disparate pieces of the LDP...

... Both Professor Berger and Dr Sheila Smith talk about the need for the Japanese public to be educated about the US-Japan security relationship. I am with Mr. Wen-Ling Chang when he suggests that this is putting the cart before the horse. The US cannot just parrot the sales pitches of the American military-industrial complex to a supposedly waiting and receptive Japanese public. I talk to ordinary Japanese every day, and there is no question but that they are confused about who it is that defends them against North Korea--i.e., the South Koreans. Sad to say, some of that willful ignorance grows out of Japanese prejudice against the Koreans. From the Pentagon perspective, however, the Japanese public's confusion is a big help---as with the Futenma issue---and it is doubtful if a public debate in Japan that might reveal the true situation to the Japanese public is desired." End of quotes.


Time "Rethinking the Pacific?" as the New York Times wrote December 10, 2009 http://nyti.ms/cu5npc

"It is natural for America’s attention to be focused on the cost in blood and money of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a more permanent security issue is the U.S. presence in the Western Pacific, where America provides a security umbrella under which Japan, South Korea and others have prospered. Access to U.S. markets has been a part of this arrangement, playing a key role in China’s rise.

Given America’s budgetary problems, massive trade deficits and unemployment problems will it be long before the U.S. public begins to question policies, entrenched since the 1950s, of providing both military security and market access for this region?

Can the United States afford keeping 50,000 service personnel in Japan and another 28,000 in Korea? Can South Korea not defend itself, at least against conventional attack, from an impoverished North? For how long will Japan be allowed to hide behind a U.S. nuclear shield while proclaiming its opposition to nuclear weapons? Should the United States take risks to defend Taiwan, which shows scant interest in spending on its own defense?"


Approved?
Moving more U.S. military training on Okinawa to Japan Self-Defense Force bases would be a step in the right direction


Sources: Yomiuri shimbun, The Japan Times, Stars and Stripes, NY Times, NBR, agencies, Reporter's Notes.




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