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Okinawa governor refuses to approve change to U.S. base transfer plan

58 Comments

Okinawa Gov Denny Tamaki said Thursday he will not approve the central government's planned design change for the relocation of a key U.S. military base within the southern island prefecture, a decision that could lead to a legal battle.

Tamaki has been calling for dialogue with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida over the controversial transfer plan for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in a residential area of Ginowan, to the less densely populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago, but the central government has shown no signs of responding.

"It is unacceptable to continue (new base) construction with no prospect of completion, which is effectively meaningless," Tamaki said at a press conference.

Under the plan to transfer the functions of the Futenma airfield to the new site adjacent to the Marines' Camp Schwab, in line with a 1996 bilateral accord on the return of land occupied by the air base, the central government is scheduled to reclaim land in waters off the Henoko area and construct V-shaped runways.

But progress has been slow, with many locals strongly opposed to the plan as they hope the U.S. base will be relocated outside the subtropical island prefecture.

Refusing to approve the application submitted in April last year by the Defense Ministry's Okinawa bureau to address weak ground found in the planned reclamation area will be the prefecture's "trump card," according to a local assembly member.

The governor pointed out that the Defense Ministry bureau has not fully examined the stability of the ground as it has yet to check the deepest point and its investigation of the design change's possible impact on endangered dugong in the area was insufficient.

The central government is expected to take immediate countermeasures, with a court fight likely to ensue.

After decades of hosting the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, many people in Okinawa, which remained under U.S. rule until 1972 following Japan's defeat in World War II, are frustrated with noise, crimes and accidents linked to the bases.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the same day the central government maintains its view that the relocation to Henoko is the only solution, citing the need to ensure deterrence under the Japan-U.S. alliance and remove the dangers posed by the Futenma air base at the same time.

"We will do our utmost in realizing the return of (the land occupied by) the Futenma air base at the earliest date while continuing to make efforts to gain the understanding of local people," he said at a regular news conference.

Even if the change is approved, it is expected to take at least 12 years until the start of operations at the new base, with the project's costs totaling around 930 billion yen ($8.06 billion).

Since receiving the application, the Okinawan prefectural government has sent around 450 questions to the Defense Ministry asking for more details about the plan.

Some prefectural assembly members expressed support for Tamaki's decision Thursday, saying, "We need two or three arrows in the quiver, such as an injunction against the use of the port and soil related to the landfill."

But Ginowan Mayor Masanori Matsugawa told reporters in Naha it was unfortunate that the return of Futenma would be drawn out even longer as "it has been 25 years since the agreement on the return of land occupied by the base was made."

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58 Comments

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the game of cat and mouse is happening, everyone knows this project will proceed.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Why does there have to be a foreign military base in such an area of natural beauty? It's like building a sewage plant in front of Mount Fuji!

4 ( +16 / -12 )

Even if the change is approved, it is expected to take at least 12 years until the start of operations at the new base, 

Once again, false propaganda, it's not a "new" base, it's a landfill adjoined to an existing facility.

Anyone who calls it a "new base" is just regurgitating propaganda from the prefectural government.

There are countless examples of "landfills" here in Okinawa, and no one calls them a "new" city, or airport, or anything, and just accept, logically, that they are extensions to existing facilities or municipalities.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

The game of cat and mouse is happening

The "majority" are apathetic to the landfill, or are for it. This "game" is the only way Tamaki and other politicians can keep their jobs!

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

Japan's government mere continues environmental destruction that waste immense tax for unrealistic plan like delusion.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

I don't remember similar opposition to the second runway at Naha International Airport. It is on an analogous landfill and not all that far from the proposed new USMC air base. For the life of me, if it closes Futenma and allows the land to be returned to its original owners I don't see what all the gnashing of teeth is about.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

The "majority" are apathetic to the landfill, or are for it. This "game" is the only way Tamaki and other politicians can keep their jobs!

Actually no, most Okinawans are against it. There are at least two major polls and referendums on this.

but you're right, Tamaki is doing this to keep his job, because that's what his people wants. If he supported the transfer he'd be voted out.

so how long are you going to pretend to be from Okinawa and misrepresent information? not too long ago you said you are from Yamanashi.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Time for the U.S. to leave Japan and leave the defense Japan strictly to the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Japanese bases built where Japanese people want them to be built, manned by Japanese soldiers. No U.S. soldiers anywhere in the area. The U.S. can save billions and just use U.S. Naval forces to maintain a presence in the area. Japan can pay their own way.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

@dr tom

Unfortunately it's not that simple.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Good! At least there is one politicians that can say NO to US occupant. Take your troops back home.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

why to not discuss about removal base back to US soil instead?

or there is no this option on table?

why do we need to sponsor foreign boots on japanese ground by our taxes?

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Haneda has enough capacity going forward. Lease Narita to the US.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The American occupation of Okinawa continues in all but name, while their puppet LDP government does their dirty work for them. They wouldn't have handed it back in 1972 otherwise...

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Ahh, this again? So the Bilateral agreement is between the US and Japan. Okinawa is not a part of that agreement. And as Yubaru points out, Okinawans are mostly apathetic. The "polls" are done by Ryukyu Shimpo and the Okinawa Times and are notoriously anti base. And moving the base was agreed to back when? And it's being dragged out by whom? Ugh.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

The American occupation of Okinawa continues in all but name, while their puppet LDP government does their dirty work for them.

Much better having the US forces there protecting Japan, than having Chinese forces moving in and shackling all freedoms in Japan like it has in Hong Kong.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

OK Everybody, pack up, going back to North America…oh You?, no, You need to start studying chinese

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I like the Okinawan, they have balls.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Yet the bottom is too soft to build a runway, how long did it take to build the second runway at Naha? What about the other reclamation projects? The new airfield at Swab does not have a completion date in site. Lastly the bases are the reason for the reclamation projects.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@WA4TKG, please stop with the scare tactics which are older than me! Remember China has never attacked Okinawa unlike America.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Power to Governor Denny Tamaki. We're all behind you. Don't let injustice dominate this world. 

Futenma is an illegal property. The land it sits on was illegally requisitioned by the occupation U.S. army in violation of international law (cf. Article 46 of the Hague Convention). Some poster says the land cannot be said to have been confiscated because there are land owners of it. Or some may argue that the U.S. occupation army's encroachment of private land with impunity has been pardoned by later bilateral agreements between Tokyo and Washington. 

True there exist private land owners for the Futenma air station, but can they enter their own property freely? No, they can’t, because their right to get access to their land has been confiscated and usurped.

No bilateral agreement can exonerate the illegal action the U.S. occupation forces committed on occupied Okinawa. Dealing with stolen goods is prohibited by criminal law of any country, and it never fails to be a crime no matter what agreements may have been reached between seller and buyer.

The illegality that is Futenma cannot be effaced by any means at all. It cannot be relocated to Henoko. The base must be closed and the land returned to Okinawa right then and there. Period.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

voiceofokinawaToday  12:48 pm JST

Futenma is an illegal property

It is Japanese land leased to the US. Legal in every concept of the term.

Of course, going back to the 1800s, we do have Japan illegally annexing the Ryukyu Kingdom, so I guess you could say as a result Futenma was illegally confiscated.

Waiting for the people of Okinawa to bring a claim to a court somewhere.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that Futenma's relocation to Henoko "is the only solution" to ensure deterrence under the Japan-U.S. alliance and to eliminate the danger Futenma poses at the current site.

To ensure deterrence under the Japan-U.S. alliance? Does it mean he thinks the U.S. won't come to Japan's aid at the time of a contingency unless Japan followed what the U.S. dictated? Lol.

To eliminate the danger Futenma poses at the current site? Note that Kadena Air Base or Yokota Air Base in Tokyo has seen more serious accidents than Futenma. Is Kadena or Yokota the next in the timeline to be closed and returned?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

voiceofokinawaToday  01:25 pm JST

To eliminate the danger Futenma poses at the current site? Note that Kadena Air Base or Yokota Air Base in Tokyo has seen more serious accidents than Futenma. Is Kadena or Yokota the next in the timeline to be closed and returned?

What danger? Driving on Route 58 poses more danger to someone on Okinawa than KAB does.

Those bases are all staying put as long as Japan wants to live peacefully.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

My views on America in Japan is the same as I view the Soviet Union in my youth who were based in my country and who I always through they were occupiers. However with the problems plaguing in Japan, population decline which any neighboring country could take advantage of including America and South Korea in the future. Problems around Japan such as China, both Koreas, and Russia, America is unfortunately a necessary evil.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Okinawa refuses lol as if yeh LDP ponzi party would care

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I agree! The USA should withdraw all troops from japan and close all bases. Furthermore, all defense pacts should be rescinded and not a single American should give their life defending Japan.

>

3 ( +5 / -2 )

why do we need to sponsor foreign boots on japanese ground by our taxes?

Good point, The US does not need to defend Japan. Japan should do that themselves.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

藤原Today  01:49 pm JST

My views on America in Japan is the same as I view the Soviet Union in my youth who were based in my country and who I always through they were occupiers. 

Did your country initiate war on the Soviet Union, like Japan did by attacking the US first?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I use to work there at Camp Schwab as Facilities Engineer superintendent, This will just be a extension of the base already there, It is a beautiful area and is where I had my boat for deep sea fishing, but all things must chang I guess, It will still be a beautiful area, Just more noise and more military in Nago over the hill.

I know some of people in the village there and they are mostly for it because the Japanese government will pay the every year for the extra noise.

by the way there are plenty of people here that love the bases as it brings big money to the economy. That was changing to the Chinese tourist, but we know how that went

5 ( +8 / -3 )

RegBilk (Today  01:34 pm JST),

What danger? Driving on Route 58 poses more danger to someone on Okinawa than KAB does.

Chief Cabinet Secretry Hirokazu Matsuno says the danger Futenma poses is one of the reasons why it must be relocated to Henoko. If Futenma is so dangerous and hence must be relocated somewhere else, so must Kadena and Yokota Air Bases because they are no less dangerous than Futenma.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

RegBilk,

What danger? Driving on Route 58 poses more danger to someone on Okinawa than KAB does.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, after his first-hand observation of the Futenma air station by helicopter, commented that Futenma was the most dangerous air field in the world.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If he refuses to approve the change, then he is 100% responsible for Futenma remaining open, and really doesn't care one wit about the actual safety issue. And honestly, take away the subsidies Okinawa gets for housing the bases if you actually want him to budge -- the guy has his hands out all the time for it, as do many other whiners who depend on the government for money for the bases.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Article 46 of the Hague Convention clearly states: ”Private property cannot be confiscated.” And yet the U.S. occupation army, knowingly or unknowingly, encroached upon private land with impunity to build a vast air field, swallowing up villages and all.

Do we have to wait for court ruling to determine if their unrestrained encroachment upon private land was illegal or not?

The U.S. has no legitimate right to demand a replacement for Futenma, an illegal property per se, be provided in exchange of its return or else Futenma would remain at the current site as it is.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

voiceofokinawa: "Do we have to wait for court ruling to determine if their unrestrained encroachment upon private land was illegal or not?"

There was little to nothing when they built the current base, and people built around it since they lived off it, as many do still now. Besides, the nation has more than given the US the right to be there, and Okinawa, and this man who still wants the money but not to the work for it, has no right to protest. Period.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Sorry... they have the right to protest, but not to deny and disobey the law, with the Governor has and is doing.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Actually no, most Okinawans are against it. There are at least two major polls and referendums on this.

Oh heck, you drink the kool-aid too? Learn to read numbers and what I posted, I wrote "apathetic" for a specific reason!

Support 114,933

Oppose 434,273

No opinion either way 52,682

Total votes 605,385

Key number is here: Registered voters and turnout 1,153,591 52.48%

So out of a little more than 1.1 million registered voters, 434,000 or so were against it.

Do the math! It's really simple subtraction. One can say that of the number of people who voted, the majority were against it, that is a fact.

BUT that does not mean that the majority of Okinawan/Japanese voters are against the landfill. There are a little over 500,000 who did not vote, nearly 48% of the electorate did not vote.

If it was a truly MAJOR issue the turnout would have been higher than a little over 52%. Hence the comment about the apathy of the electorate regarding this issue!

The hard-core anti-base people will continually lie, obfuscate, and deflect from the actual numbers!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_Okinawan_referendum

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

There was little to nothing when they built the current base, and people built around it since they lived off it, as many do still now. Besides, the nation has more than given the US the right to be there, and Okinawa, and this man who still wants the money but not to the work for it, has no right to protest. Period.

He has a history of beating a dead horse, and just stirs the pot, these issues were all dealt with, and considered under the treaty agreements with the US following the war.

No one has brought these issues to any "official" entity that could have any effect in the matter, but some just keep repeating and regurgitating the same things.

4. Land Issues: The Legality of Land Acquisitions

On 5th April 1945, four days after US forces began invading Okinawa Island, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz issued a directive terminating Japan's administrative, legislative, and judicial powers in Okinawa and declaring it officially under US military occupation.[1] This was in conformity with Article 42 of the Hague Convention on the 'Laws and Customs of War on Land,' of October 1907.[2

https://ryukyu-okinawa.net/pages/postwar4.html

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Article 46 of the Hague Convention clearly states: ”Private property cannot be confiscated.” And yet the U.S. occupation army, knowingly or unknowingly, encroached upon private land with impunity to build a vast air field, swallowing up villages and all.

When will the uniformed learn to stop cherry-picking things to support an opinion?

4. Land Issues: The Legality of Land Acquisitions

On 5th April 1945, four days after US forces began invading Okinawa Island, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz issued a directive terminating Japan's administrative, legislative, and judicial powers in Okinawa and declaring it officially under US military occupation.[1] This was in conformity with Article 42 of the Hague Convention on the 'Laws and Customs of War on Land,' of October 1907.[2

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Yubaru,

The excerpt you quoted only tells how the occupation of an enemy territory should proceed in conformity with Article 42 of the Hague Convention. So, what do you want to argue about with it?

By the way, is it a USCAR directive, or what?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

That's the most typical of a tasteless screed a government official can write. Very hard to read.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Okinawans are SICK of being used. From WWII onwards, Japanese have only had one interest in Okinawa, their own.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If you refuse to move the base, which would be infinitely more safe than where it is now

(let’s be specific, the Landing Zones) then you can no longer claim you’re stopping this for the people. I have relatives that live in the Flight Path of Futenma and would be glad to see the airfield there closed to Air Traffic

2 ( +3 / -1 )

YongYangToday  12:21 am JST

Okinawans are SICK of being used. From WWII onwards, Japanese have only had one interest in Okinawa, their own.

Absolutely. This issue is being argued without taking into consideration what the Okinawans think.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

RegBilkToday 01:25 am JST

YongYangToday  12:21 am JST

Okinawans are SICK of being used. From WWII onwards, Japanese have only had one interest in Okinawa, their own.

Absolutely. This issue is being argued without taking into consideration what the Okinawans think.

Disagree. Yubaru pointed out that more than half of the electorate did not vote in a referendum. If you don't vote, that means you are fairly apathetic to the situation. My Okinawan relatives are also apathetic. They say basically, "well, the Americans have been here for so long, let's just make the best of it".

Should there be a reduction in troops? Absolutely. Should Futenma move? Absolutely. And move does not mean to Guam, it means to the base extension at Camp Schwab.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

If da yanks wanna base, 100% paid for by da yanks + mega compensation to the locals.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yubaru,

The document you referred to (https://ryukyu-okinawa.net/pages/postwar4.html) discusses land acquisition issues, alright. But it doesn't mention Article 46 of the Hague Convention, the most important provision an occupation army must abide, referring only to Art. 15, Art. 42 and Art. 55. I was not cherry-picking as you accuse.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So, what's your counter-argument to my claim that Futenma sits on illegally confiscated private lands and hence it is a illegal property. It boils down the U.S. can't demand a replacement be provided in exchange of its return.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Okinawans don't turn out to vote. Why? What's the point. They turned out to demonstrate in massive protests, but what difference did it make? Absolutely none! Tokyo doesn't give a rat's rear end what Okinawans think.

If the US military absolutely has to be here, they should pay rent at the going rate for land rental. And double for the golf courses!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

so how long are you going to pretend to be from Okinawa and misrepresent information? not too long ago you said you are from Yamanashi.

Huh? Me? Yamanashi? I know you have me confused with someone else here! lol!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BertieWoosterNov. 26  07:43 am JST

Why does there have to be a foreign military base in such an area of natural beauty? It's like building a sewage plant in front of Mount Fuji!

The US military already has a sewage treatment facility at Camp Fuji

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

BertieWoosterNov. 26  07:43 am JST

Why does there have to be a foreign military base in such an area of natural beauty? It's like building a sewage plant in front of Mount Fuji!

The irony in this is that there is a US Marine training facility at Mount Fuji for which many of the Marines on Okinawa constantly travel to train at. Get educated.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hay there Bertie, got news for ya’, Land Owners GET PAID, Big Time.

My family in Ginowan / Futenma Flight Path have gotten paid rent on their land for 50+ Years, and so does every other Land Owner

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The irony in this is that there is a US Marine training facility at Mount Fuji for which many of the Marines on Okinawa constantly travel to train at. Get educated.

You are asking the impossible. You can't educate someone who is unwilling to even acknowledge the existence of a larger picture as they spend their lives dancing barefoot around a campfire singing kumbaya all day and night.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some interesting details of the US administration of Okinawa and the negotiations to return it to Japanese sovereignty.

https://adst.org/2016/07/u-s-returns-okinawa-japan-1971/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Voiceofokinawa, Japan ceded control of Okinawa and the rest of the Ryukus to the US in the San Francisco Treaty. There was originally discussion of making them and other Japanese islands UN Trust Territories but when the negotiations were complete that was not the case for the Ryukyus. The ultimate status of Okinawa was left in the air by that treaty, something for the US and Japan to settle later at an undetermined date.

When the US signed the mutual defense treaty with Japan in 1960 it obligated Japan to provide the US with facilities (ports, airports, etc.) and land sufficient for US forces to meet their obligations to defend Japan. When the treaty came up for renegotiation circa 1970 there was some fear that if the US did not by then return Okinawa to Japan, then Japan would not renew the treaty. We don't realize it today but there was significant opposition within the US to returning Okinawa. It was the scene of the most costly (for US forces) battle of the whole Pacific war and many were of the opinion that the US should keep it. Most Americans in leadership positions of the Department of State, Department of Defense and the Nixon administration wanted to return Okinawa but they had to sell it to the American public and to Congress. Japan was still widely distrusted and America's allies in the region were afraid of what might happen to them if the US lost access to US bases in the Ryukyus. They were considered critical to meeting US obligations to all of its regional allies. That last fact has not changed either. Without those bases on Okinawa it would be almost impossible for the US to defend Taiwan (Guam is too far away and does nothing to obstruct the PLAN from getting behind Taiwan in blue water to attack it from the east while obstructing US reinforcement efforts) and it would be much harder to defend the rest of Japan. The link I posted above discusses many of the delicate matters that had to be carefully negotiated to return Okinawa to Japanese control, and not the least of these was the Okinawans themselves worried the Japanese would treat them as second class citizens as they did before the US invaded.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Desert Tortoise,

We don't realize it today but there was significant opposition within the US to returning Okinawa. 

And do you know there was also a significant portion of the Okinawa populace, both progressive and conservative, who were opposed to the reversion? The conservatives feared Okinawa might return to pre-war day poverty and the progressives argued against it by saying that the return should be without U.S. bases.

Okinawa's anti-U.S. base sentiments were at the peak at the time, as demonstrated by the Koza riot.

So, it was natural for U.S. policymakers to decide Okinawa had better be returned to Japan in order to maintain bases remaining intact and without any hitch. Thus, from the U.S. perspectives, the decision to return Okinawa to a docile Japan, always obedient to its master, was a right one.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There is enough resentment and push-back by Okinawans to necessitate a scheduled draw-down of US Forces from the prefecture. There are many places within and without mainland Japan that would welcome US bases. There is no sense of urgency among central Japanese politicians, US Military Forces, Japan, or US politicians to do this. Nothing will be done until people and/or property are threatened....unfortunately. In the meantime, band-aids like Guam will have to suffice. Saber-rattling by China and Russian notwithstanding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And do you know there was also a significant portion of the Okinawa populace, both progressive and conservative, who were opposed to the reversion? The conservatives feared Okinawa might return to pre-war day poverty and the progressives argued against it by saying that the return should be without U.S. bases.

These two comments:

Okinawa's anti-U.S. base sentiments were at the peak at the time, as demonstrated by the Koza riot.

All of what is written here is COMMON knowledge and nothing noteworthy other than to show, that even back then, as it is today, the politicians and some people dont know what they want.

Today the "anti" folks dont want the bases, but want more money from the government in handouts because they have them. And out of the other side of their speaking orifice, they dont want the bases removed without the government providing money to replace the income they received because of hosting them.

Just goes to prove that in many ways the Okinawan's themselves have not changed much over time, leastwise not the ignorant anti-base politicians and people. They dont want bases, but they want money, but are not willing to give anything in return to better the island for the people and country.

(Oh the Koza Riots, for the uninformed, was not about the US military alone, that was a small portion. It was MORE about holding the US Military responsible for crimes and actions against the local population.

If the US had been more forthcoming and honest and allowed those accused of crimes to be held accountable here, there would NEVER have been any riots!)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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