politics

U.S. dangles large land return as anti-base resentment surges in Okinawa

36 Comments
By Tim Kelly

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Seperate Okinawa once from Japan and let them decide to go independent, belong to China, or to America or to remain as Japan. They are ungrateful people. Okinawa return in 1972 was a mistake.

-7 ( +16 / -23 )

The situation has become way over blown and politicized. There's hardly an epidemic of violent crime there. Japan currently needs American bases or to significantly increase the local military. Given the threat from China this is the current reality. Are the same people who want America out also holding a sign that says "Peace no War?" How exactly will those two philosophies pan out in reality? Be careful what you wish for.

1 ( +11 / -10 )

What? A strip of land up in the North?

This isn't going to placate anybody.

What Okinawans need is Futenma, Kadena, Naha Port.

Not yet another new base or a strip of land the US doesn't want.

3 ( +17 / -14 )

It has been 70 years since the second world war. It is time to end the occupation.

8 ( +18 / -10 )

Little do people realize but that camp being offered for return could hold all the other bases in Okinawa inside it, it is not a tiny strip of land by any means.

What Okinawans need is Futenma, Kadena, Naha Port.

Time to get your head out of the sand here. Naha Port is already scheduled for return. Kadena will not be returned and Futenma will be when Henoko is finished.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

The return of the land, part of a jungle training camp, known as Camp Gonsalves in Northern Okinawa, was agreed in 1996, but has been delayed by protesters blocking the construction of helipads by the Japanese government that the Marines say they need before the handover.

Notice they carfully use the word "MAY" give back the land. Each time the U.S. claims they may give back land, it's tied to another land grab. It's not really giving back land, especially if you are also taking more new land in the process!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Move the bases to Kyushu or Honshu. Enough is enough of Okinawa bearing so much of the presence.

Japan has the 4th largest defense budget in the world.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Okinawa has a value to Japan only from their geopolitical location. If they cannot accept bases there, they are not important and there will not be a large financial assistance from the central government of Japan.

-13 ( +5 / -18 )

Why do you hate the Okinawa people and say they are ungrateful?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Here we are in 2016 looking back on 1946 and deciding that bulldozing someone's home to make a base is a really really nasty thing to do.

Well, maybe it was. But just a year earlier, a couple of cities were atom bombed, and tens of thousands of Japanese people were being held prisoner in the USSR and in China. Mao and friends were pushing the nationalists onto Taiwan, and it sure looked like Asia was going to heck in a hand basket.

US forces saw Okinawans fighting side by side with the Japanese and willing to kill themselves rather than surrender to Americans. No matter how much Okinawans will claim they were forced to do it, it must have looked to a lot of people like the old "I was just following orders" defense. So the houses got bulldozed and the land got taken.

Okinawan people have their own government now, just like anyone else in Japan. They get a lot of national government assistance. They have tourism and other industries. It is not great, but there it is. I am not sure what people in Okinawa want, much less expect. They want to switch places with Taiwan? or Hong Kong? or Guam? Hard to believe that would make them better off, or happier. And now... WOW... the US is going to give land back to the Japanese government, and presumably to Okinawa. If I were a betting man, I would bet that this will screw up the base opposition for about 50 years. Lawsuits and political firestorms will rage over the area forever as Okinawans get the chance to bicker with each other. Everyone will get a chance to see how well Okinawans can manage their own affairs.

There will be no bulldozers on that land while people make claims and counterclaims ad infinitum. Because 2016 is not 1946.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

1972 was a bad plan, undo the reversion and make Okinawa part of the US.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

As alluded above, Ryukyu needs to kick the American bases out, get independent from Japan, and be their own.

They shouldn't be pawns to the Japanese and Americans anymore. Developing a healthy and mutually respectful relationship with both Japan and China is the way forward for the people of Ryukyu.

Oh yea, and the Yanks can go home. They live 5000 miles away on the other side of the Pacific. They have no business constantly stirring the pot in this region for the last 70 years.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

bjohnson23 at Jun. 20, 2016 - 09:36AM JST 1972 was a bad plan, undo the reversion and make >Okinawa part of the US.

Part of US? No thanks, I don't need more of my tax dollars going to another Puerto Rico in the making.

And have you no pride in being an Okinawan? Shame.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This would be a mistake. It'll never end until the US is out and Japan is forced into co-habitation or political cooperation with China. Only then will the protests stop, just not in the way they'd expect

1 ( +5 / -4 )

@gautama,

There is no occupation,The U.S. forces are in Japan because the Japanese government wants them to stay. Japan is very aware of the fact that because of the U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa and other areas,there has been peace and prosperity and stability over the last 70 years.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

The US just blinked. Well well. Let's hope it's the beginning of the end for the bases in Okinawa.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The US just blinked. Well well. Let's hope it's the beginning of the end for the bases in Okinawa.

Chris- As usual you hit the nail on the head. I think we are starting to see that. And I think that part of the reason is the environment we are living in. I have a feeling that the Scottish Referendum alongside Brexit might have the US worrying about Okinawa deciding to hold its own referendum. That, I suspect, is behind this big blink.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Agreed! Agreed! Close all bases everywhere in the world. Let Japan,So. Korea and Europe defend themselves. I am sick and tired of paying for these bases which do NOT serve the interests of my country.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Just a few years ago the US Military had a great opportunity to show the people of Okinawa that they were willing to give them something without asking for anything in return when the land hosting Awase Golf Course was decided to be returned for Local Use. The US Military could have said that in order to reduce the burden on Okinawa we are willing to return Awase Golf Course and there is no need for a replacement. Instead the US Military made the Japanese Taxpayers build them a brand new 18 hole golf course even though it is not necessary to fulfill any type of military mission and they already have another 18 hole golf course and two 9 hole courses on Okinawa. For the US Military to now say that they may return land that has already been scheduled to be returned for 20 years and make it sound like they are doing something for the people of Okinawa is actually an insult to the people of Okinawa.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yes lets allow a vote for Independence for Ryuku Kingdom. Lets see Japan and US out for good. Cuts to all funding from both and then China will buy their way in and then the fun begins. Freedom For Okinawa will be short lived. Remeber China also claims all the RYUKU's as theirs also. Japan would love to see the WELFARE State of Okinawa go away. Okinawa is a just a sucking sound on the Japanese Economy.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

So they are holding out the promise of returning land that they already promised to return 20 years ago as an incentive to improve relations?

Not much of a gesture, is it? I get that this is a kind of rock/ hard place situation, but still.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

yep Okinawa should have stayed part of the US like Guam, give an inch and the ungrateful take a mile.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The pro-base crowd simply doesn't understand Okinawa's history. Invaded by mainland samurai clans, then annexed by Japan and forced to fight in WW2 by Imperial Japan where the main island lost over 10% of its population. A lot of Okinawan friends lost at least 1 of their grandparents in that battle. Then a large chunk of heavily populated land confiscated through bulldoze or bayonet policy because of a threat that constantly changes (WW2 era US, then USSR, Vietnam, North Korea, and now China). Of course you'd be hard pressed to convince local Okinawans when they keep hearing the same things for decades now.

Solution is simply to reduce the American presence. Locals are not going to be convinced of a "Chinese" threat when historically, all the negative stuff that's been done to them like forced fighting, hosting foreign bases, crime, etc, have all came from japan or the us.

That said, Okinawans also have to realize times are also different. History hasn't been kind to them but Asia hasn't been a peaceful area in a while. The solution is to have the JSDF do more and increase the military budget. Since many Okinawans are also in the JSDF, local soldiers are significantly more tolerable to local population than foreign ones. Japan has the manpower and technology, but not the political will to do this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Don't worry Okinawans, you will have your wish -- ditto Korea -- "America First" will be more than a catch phrase as of January 21, 2017

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The US Military could have said that in order to reduce the burden on Okinawa we are willing to return Awase Golf Course and there is no need for a replacement. Instead the US Military made the Japanese Taxpayers build them a brand new 18 hole golf course even though it is not necessary to fulfill any type of military mission and they already have another 18 hole golf course and two 9 hole courses on Okinawa. For the US Military to now say that they may return land that has already been scheduled to be returned for 20 years and make it sound like they are doing something for the people of Okinawa is actually an insult to the people of Okinawa.

If you are looking for someone to blame here, instead of pointing fingers at the US military for following the treaty that the Government of Japan signed and agreed to with the US,take the complaint to Tokyo and blame them.

There is a reason treaties are signed and made between countries. If there needs to be amendments or changes those need to be taken up with the national governments.

Do a little research, Japan lived up to it's end of the bargain when they built the new course, and the US accepted it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

There needs to be a percent reduction every year. A good associate number would be growth in Okinawa population % = reduction in base percent.

Historically US Military are not honorable or trustworthy even to their own servicemen = I would not trust anything they say = It would be better just to leave since they have overstayed their welcome.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/us/decades-later-sickness-among-airmen-after-a-hydrogen-bomb-accident.html

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let us wait to see American voters reaction about learning Okinawans occupation. They are also sick and tired of war.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Those protesters are going to do anything to play victim, stay in the news and demonize the American armed forces. Give back all the land, pack up and leave, tell them to shut the eff up and don't call when someone puts a foot in their rear.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They shouldn't dangle it in front of them as incentive -- the Okinawans will just take it, then resume the exact same demands a split second later; same as with the handouts they demand to host the bases they demand leave.

japan4life: "Just a few years ago the US Military had a great opportunity to show the people of Okinawa that they were willing to give them something without asking for anything in return when the land hosting Awase Golf Course was decided to be returned for Local Use."

Why should the US do something for nothing when the Okinawans want everything for doing nothing? I agree in the case you mention that they should have, and it's not like they need a golf course at all, in my opinion, but besides that.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

If you want to put in our back, go ahead Are you insinuate USA is going to destroy Japan?.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

US should have kept Okinawa and made it another Hawaii.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Given the threat from China this is the current reality.

Fear-mongering is the reality. That's how the Iraq War happened after 9/11.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I just wonder how many Japanese are employed on the Bases? Maybe it is time to move the bases let some other Japanese enjoy the wealth

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Old history can be a learning experience but cannot dictate the actions of what is now. Japan and the USA must look at what is now. It is no different than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb issue. One must consider the situation, the circumstances and the environment now that surrounds Okinawa and Japan in relation to the USA and the rest of Asia and the World. It requires rational and logical evaluation and consideration of multiple relevant and realistic needs based upon meaningful priorities based upon the practical need for safety, security and welfare of the people of Okinawa and Japan as a whole.

This "offering" by the USA if meant to appease is not timely nor useful for the discussion taking place. It only addresses the problems and issues related to real estate and muddies the discussion, probably making the current problem much bigger than it could have been.

Land settlement could have been a matter of all or nothing. Now there is "partial" settlement. That complicates the entire thought process in resolving the basic issues at hand.

The complications started with issues from "where" in Okinawa to "never" in Okinawa. Now it is "here and how much?" of Okinawa and for "how long?", for "whose benefit?" and "who pays?" Added to that are the questions: "Why now? What is the reason? What is the purpose? and many, many more.

What a mess....What a timing...

Who advised Obama?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The return of the land tract was promised in 1996 along with the return of Futenma Air Station. The return of Naha military port facilities had already been promised in 1973, which was re-confirmed also in 1996. If the return of land were to be done true and sincere to the real meaning of the word, who would not rejoice at it?

But the fact is that the returns are all string-attached because the Japanese side must provide their replacement within Okinawa. In the case of Northern Training Area, the Japanese side must build 6 landing and take-off facilities for Ospreys in the remaining tract surrounding Takae village. One of the facilities is being built a few hundred meters from the village itself. The area is rich in flora and fauna with lush forests. The land promised for return has been fallow and unused anyway.

So can we be thankful to the U.S.'s generous and beneficial treatment and let go the strengthening and perpetuation of its military footprint?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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