politics

Outnumbered and elderly, Okinawa protesters oppose U.S. military runway

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By Mayuko Ono and Tim Kelly

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The referendum showed 70 percent of the 52% of the eligible voters who voted opposed expansion of a U.S. Marines base at Henoko on the island, but the vote was non-binding and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government decided to forge ahead with a project long promised to Washington.

FIFY, Rueters.

At Henoko, protesters sat in the road to block trucks bringing sand for the new runway, a tactic repeated hundreds of times during more than a decade of demonstrations.

This is a constant frustration and massive inconvenience for people who travel on 329 or live in the Henoko area... a meiwaku

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

As a U.S. tilt-rotor Osprey transport flew overhead, Motoyama looked up, recalling how the roar of military jets often woke him as a schoolboy, and made it hard to play baseball too.

"You can't hear the ball hit the bat, which can be dangerous, if you're an outfielder like I was."

Wow, really? Now we can add 'ruined childhood baseball games' to the list of horrendous acts the US military in Okinawa is responsible for. Talk about being over-dramatic.

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"It’s going to be a long battle," said Motoyama, 27

Nodoubt, this battle is between good and evil.

*****  

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once said that security-related matters should be decided on by the state, not by a locality. Sounds natural.

A question remains, though: How is the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko relevant to the defense and security of Japan? Without giving a clear explanation to this question, Abe cannot say security matters fall within the state’s exclusive jurisdiction.

Otherwise, he’s merely staging a monkey show and befuddling the nation by intentionally mixing the Henoko relocation plan with security.

An oft-cited reason why the U.S. Marines are stationed in Okinawa is the island's superior strategic location; that is, from Okinawa they can deal with any contingencies as quickly as possible that may occur in any part of the region.

But in a contingency involving China or North Korea, Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture would serve much better. Sasebo is much closer to Beijing, Shanghai and Pyongyang than Okinawa. Or if skirmishes ever occur in the Senkaku waters, the Self-Defense Forces would have primary responsibility, not the U.S. Marines (See: “Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation 2015″ ).

Thus, it turns out that the “superior strategic location” argument doesn’t hold water at all.

Furthermore, if the marines are in Okinawa to deal with contingencies very quickly, as ballyhooed so often, why are 8,000 core combat troops scheduled to move to Guam, leaving only support units behind in Okinawa? Doesn't this show that they are stationed here not because Okinawa is strategically situated in a superior location but because it's simply a convenient place for them to maintain bases here and lead a comfortable life?

The JGSDF is building bases in the island chain, that is, on Yonaguni Is., Ishigki Is., Miyako Is. and Amami Is. , said to scare off Chinese naval and air squadrons. This in spite of the fact that U.S. Marine bases are here for deterrence. Nonsense.

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But a rapid U.S. military departure is unlikely, because Washington wants a presence on the strategic island chain fringing the East China Sea as the power of neighboring China grows.

It's unfortunate that Okinawa is located in such a crucial strategic position against Chinese jingoistic expansionism. The only hope for Okinawa is to quicken the fall of the evil empire.

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sorteos,

It's unfortunate that Okinawa is located in such a crucial strategic position ...

I have argued above that Okinawa isn't located in a strategically superior location as far as the U.S. Marines and their bases are concerned. Can you reject it?  Or can you support the claim that Henoko is the only solution for the Futenma relocation issue?

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A question remains, though: How is the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko relevant to the defense and security of Japan? Without giving a clear explanation to this question, Abe cannot say security matters fall within the state’s exclusive jurisdiction.

The marines are there to maintain quick access to Taiwan and the South China sea among other things. Many do not know this but the US is obligated by the Taiwan Relations Act to maintain the capability to respond to an invasion of Taiwan by mainland China. This is of vital importance to the defence of Japan and stability in thr region as any outright military aggression by China would start with Taiwan.

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Heroes.

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If think to protest for your land, your people, your culture, your nature and your sea, and get beaten up by Osaka riot police and trained us military and even arrested, on your lands and islands is, to me, pretty heroic.

why downvote?

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darknuts,

The marines are there to maintain quick access to Taiwan and the South China sea among other things.

But note that the marines that are to engage in actual combats will be in Guam where the infrastructures for them are now under construction, partly with funds provided by Tokyo. The vessels that will transport them are not there: Ospreys will be grounded at new runways in Henoko and the USS WASP LHD-1 anchored at Sasebo, Nagasaki.

Besides, if the marines are stationed in Okinawa with so many bases and areas on land and at the sea, and even in the air, not only for Japan's defense but also for the security of Taiwan and the South China Sea (the Philippines, Vietnam and what not), don’t you think it’s really unfair that Okinawa has to shoulder the bulk of  sacrifice for all this, physically and financially?

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This is why Japan needs to have a normal military again. Depending on a foreign power for your defense will have dire consequences in the end.

America chose Okinawa as a base since they fought Japan in ww2. They took it by force, they kept Okinawa until recently. America has a big say about those bases in Okinawa.

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AlexBecu,

They took it by force, they kept Okinawa until recently. America has a big say about those bases in Okinawa

If Okinawa is still under U.S. military occupation, you may be right to say the U.S. "has a big say about those bases in Okinawa." But Okinawa isn't occupied by the U.S. military, let alone mainland Japan. 

Japan restored sovereignty in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect.  Okinawa was amalgamated into Japan in 1972. Japan is supposedly a sovereign, independent state. But if Japan is independent, the U.S. is allowed no big say about those bases. 

However, the fact that the U.S. still has a big say, demanding, for example, Futenma's replacement be built within Okinawa, means that Japan's sovereignty is only in name and the U.S. military presence, especially in Okinawa, is nothing different from occupation.

That's the conclusion your argument leads to.

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Japan is supposedly a sovereign, independent state.

@voice, are you really saying Japan is NOT a sovereign, independent state and that the U.S. still has control and jurisdiction over Japan, not just in military matters, but in all matters including domestic and internal civil and political affairs, as it did during the 1945-52 occupation period? That's the conclusion your arguments leads to.

Do you accept Okinawa as a PREFECTURE of Japan and thus under its laws and jurisdiction and is subject to compliance as Japan central government deems necessary? Japan central government and the U.S. are in AGREEMENT that the Futenma base should be closed and its personnel relocated to Henoko. Furthermore, Japan is in agreement that U.S. military presence in Okinawa is a strategic necessity. If they didn't, they would have long ago pressed for the removal of not just the U.S. Marines, but ALL U.S. military base presence.

Anytime you and other like-minded feel that the Japan government is wrong, why don't YOU and like-minded petition Gov. Tamaki to push for a BINDING referendum for Okinawa to secede from Japan and establish itself as a independent and sovereign country. Then sovereign and independent Okinawa can demand the "evil U.S. military colonial occupier" out of Okinawa territory.

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Halwick,

There're 193 nations that are members of the UN. Japan is one of them and therefore Japan is an independent sovereignty like other UN-member states. 

Japan regained its independence in 1951 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed between it and the Allies headed by the United States.

The catch is: Was and Is Japan's sovereignty the real McCoy?

No sooner had the San Francisco Peace Treaty been signed between Japan and the Allies than the Japanese delegation headed by Shigeru Yoshida was furtively whisked away to U.S. Army Presidio Base in San Francisco, where they penned another treaty deemed more important by the U.S. side -- the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, later to be officially known as the "Treaty of Mutual Security and Cooperation between Japan and the U.S."  Japan also had to sign another agreement known as the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which dealt with practical matters concerning the security treaty.

It's said that John Foster Dulles, then chief negotiator for the U.S., ordered his staff negotiating the terms of the treaty to heed to hammering provisions into it so that the U.S. could keep unrestrained rights to having bases anywhere in Japan for as long and as much as it wants. 

Dulles' hard-and-fast conditions survive to this day and permeate every nook and cranny of the Japan-U.S. security relations. This means Japan's independence was only a facade because a virtual occupation has continued with all bases and perquisites remaining intact. This state of affairs stands out most conspicuously in Okinawa, where 74 percent of the U.S. military bases in Japan concentrate.

You say all things werel agreed between the two countries. Yes, they were, but you must take into account under what circumstances all these agreements were made.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You say all things werel agreed between the two countries. Yes, they were, but you must take into account under what circumstances all these agreements were made.

Again, obfuscation deflection. In your mind, since the two separate defense treaties were signed under "questionable circumstances", therefore it negates Japan as an independent sovereignty. That's what you are implying. Yet you acknowledge the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and concur with 193 UN nations that recognizes that Japan is an independent sovereignty. You are contradicting yourself.

Subsequent to 1952 when U.S. occupation of Japan ended, has the U.S. military exercised supreme power and authority, interfered and dictated Japanese internal civil affairs and Japanese way of life and usurped Japan's sovereignty?

I don't think so. At least not in the way Imperial Japan (and military) usurped Okinawa's sovereignty prior to and up to 1945.

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Halwick,

The U.S. returned Okinawa's administrative right to Japan in 1972. Note what was returned was only the U.S.'s administrative right. The U.S. never relinquished the right to free use of Okinawa as a military bastion. It is in this sense I say a virtual occupation continued even though there was no more authoritative U.S. military government exercising all its power over the civilian population.

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Halwick, again:

I don't think so. At least not in the way Imperial Japan (and military) usurped Okinawa's sovereignty prior to and up to 1945.

We're prepared for the possibility that this battle, a battle over whether Futenma's function should remain in Okinawa forever, may last long. But you've brought up a completely different topic, off topic in fact, and obfuscate the real issue.

There's of course a question whether the annexation of Okinawa into Japan in 1872 was legal or not in terms of international law. When asked about that during a Diet session by a lawmaker from Okinawa, then Convention Director-General of MOFA replied he didn't know. Do you want to go into this topic and claim the U.S. military occupation of Okinawa from 1945 to 1972 was way more humane and commendable?

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