Saturday, December 04, 2010

Governor Election: Okinawa opposed to US bases relocation

Opposition to US military bases in Okinawa, even from the Buddhists priests...

"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Sunday’s gubernatorial election on the subtropical Japanese islands of Okinawa was the absence of a candidate supported by Minshuto, the ruling party: We’re not against the Japan-US Security Treaty but under the Security Treaty is the Status of Forces Agreement. If you look at it closely, it protects US forces in Japan, but has nothing to do with Okinawa. That’s the lie." Shoukichi Kina, Head of the DPJ Minshuto’s Okinawa chapter.

Is Japan heading to an alliance on more equal terms?

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima called Thursday on Prime Minister Naoto Kan to have a key U.S. Marine base relocated outside the prefecture. Nakaima, who was reelected as the prefecture chief Sunday, made the call in his first face-to-face discussion with Kan at the prime minister's office.

"As I have stated clearly in my campaign pledge with regards to the Futenma (base), I have called for the government to rethink its bilateral accord with the United States and to move the base outside the prefecture, so I ask for your help in making this come true". Kan, for his part, said that the central government will handle with the matter with caution and implement the relocation plan based on the bilateral accord with the United States. Okinawa has for decades hosted U.S. military forces stationed in Japan and the presence visible and costly is refused today by the nationals.

The Japanese have stated for decades their hostility to the presence of American military bases but this trend accelerated in the last 20 years, often provoked by crimes committed by US military units, by disturbance with the impact of jets training especially during the night, and more generally the Okinawans have a sentiment of being invaded against their will. Last but not least, some question the posture of the foreign army dispatch on Japanese territory for missions that are not related to the defense and protection of the archipelago as seen with the station of Marines units.

Therefore the relocation of Futenma to Henoko bay is one of the hottest topics today. Main question on the agenda for the locals is: Does Japan need these Marines units who are based in Okinawa while their targets have been Afghanistan or Iraq wars, as it was Vietnam in the 60's and 70's? Japanese have shown their contempt to such policies and already answered: No. But the US-backed successive governments since LDP ruling and nowadays with the Kan Maehara administration-- the latter being regarded locally as a DPJ hawk and closely associates to the US military industrial complex-- have not answered to the desire of the population and the oppositions of locals, an entity made of citizens and ordinary islanders.

The Okinawa Governor election was important in this context. Result is that opposition to base relocation within Okinawa appears as the result of the recent election according to Japanese media: "In the Okinawa gubernatorial election held on November 28, candidate Iha Yoichi, who has led Okinawans’ strong opposition to the relocation of the U.S. Futenma base within the prefecture, fought a close race with Nakaima Hirokazu, who reversed his previous position approving the base transfer within Okinawa right before the election campaign. 75% of voters decided against base relocation within Okinawa island. Iha: "As long as bases stay in Okinawa, base issues will continue to remain as the main task we have to solve. Our struggle will continue, so let us continue to work together. We will prevail."

During the election campaign, Iha promised that he will represent to the Japanese and U.S. governments local residents’ consensus calling for the closure and removal of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City. Exit polls taken by Kyodo News and NHK had showed: 68.9 percent (Kyodo) or 75 percent (NHK) of respondents said they cannot accept the construction of a new U.S. base in the Henoko district, Nago City, in Okinawa.

Kyodo’s exit poll indicates that about 40 percent of those who are opposed to the Futenma base transfer within the prefecture voted for Nakaima. The Okinawa Times in its editorial on November 29 pointed out, “The conservative camp could no longer carry out the election campaign by calling for the base transfer within the prefecture, which it had long accepted." Voters will not allow any turning back on the base issue.

Fundamentally, the problem is related to the existence of the Japan US military alliance. Voices opposed are heard but seldom known abroad. Here is a summary of their opinions:

"The Japanese government willingly allowed the United States to freely use its bases in Okinawa and maintain its nuclear strike capability even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972. This was revealed in diplomatic documents on negotiations of Okinawa restoration released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 26. The people of Okinawa, at the time of the restoration to Japan, had strongly called for an Okinawa without nuclear weapons and military bases.

However, the Defense Agency’s document dated January 25, 1969 indicates the Japanese government’s recognition at that time that Japan needs to keep U.S. bases in Okinawa as a stronghold for U.S. strategic attacks and for U.S. nuclear retaliation. The government also allowed the United States after Okinawa’s return to freely use its bases in Okinawa for any operations, even if they had nothing to do with Japan’s defense.

U.S. declassified documents have shown that the United States demanded that Japan continuously accept the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons in Okinawa and secure the right to freedom of the use of bases there even after the return of Okinawa. The newly-released diplomatic documents have revealed that Japan was adjusting its policies in accord with the dictates of the United States."

Locally the Okinawa islanders do not have much hope in the present government as the Asia Times wrote in this story: "Okinawans try to vote US base out"
AsiaTimes Report:

Last pieces to quote, 2 VDO from different editorial contents
First the URL of Al Jazeera
And 2nd, Press TV by PanOrientNews Corp.

Creative Commons License
Governor Election: Okinawa opposed to US bases relocation by Asian Gazette Blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sources: Kyodo, Okinawa Times, Akahata, Rengo, Washington Post,
Press Tv, Al Jazeera, Youtube, NHK, Reporter's Notes

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