Art9: Okinawa - Domestic Colonization

mmlung des Ökum. Rates der Kirchen, Pusan 2013
Workshop "Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution"   

Madang Workshop: Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution
November 7, 2013

Okinawa Under Domestic Colonization

-The true nature of US military bases in Okinawa is "discrimination"-
Rev. KAMIYA Takehiro, Futenma Baptist Church, Okinawa Baptist Convention

US military bases in Okinawa, which began with the landing of American forces late in the 2nd World War in 1945, continue their squatting to this day. One can say "It's because of the Japan-US Security Agreement system," and end it at that, but, if this is so, then why does Okinawa, which is only 0.6% of Japan's territory, have 74% of US forces stationed in Japan? (US bases occupy fully 20% of the land on Okinawa Island') Most of that land has been usurped in violation of international law, and many of those who have had their land taken want to have access to and recover their land.

Because there are so many US military bases, there is no end to incidents and accidents arising from them; Crashes of military aircrafts, objects dropping from aircraft, traffic accidents, noise pollution, murder, rape, arson and so on. In 1995 a 12 year-old girl was abducted and raped by three American soldiers. In angered response to this, 85,000 people gathered in a "Prefecture Citizens' Rally" and continued demonstrations for many days. With an aim to calm this anger of Okinawa, the governments of Japan and US agreed in the following year, 1996, to adjust and reduce the overly heavy military base burden borne by Okinawa. And they promised to relocate the Futenma Marine Corps Air Base and return the land. This Futenma Base is located in the middle of a city, surrounded by many public facilities and residential building, and is referred to as "The world's most dangerous military base." (In 2004 a US military helicopter crashed within the grounds of Okinawa International University, located in Futenma City.)

Although they promised to relocate this base, its new location is not to be another prefecture, but farther North on the same island at Nago City, off the coast of Henoko. (Plans have changed and the base is now to be half on existing and half on reclaimed land.) So there has been no reduction of Okinawa's military base burden. Naturally, over 80% of Okinawa residents continue to oppose the relocation within Okinawa prefecture.

In October of last year the world's most dangerous faulty plane, known as the "Osprey" (MV22), was deployed to Futenma, the world's most dangerous air base, despite overwhelming opposition. Even though 103,000 gathered for a Prefectural Citizens' Rally and all of the heads of local government, including the Governor of Okinawa, stated clearly, "NO TO DEPLOYMENT," the Ospreys flew into place. In August of this year, additional Ospreys were deployed. (The current total is 24 Ospreys.) In light of these realities, one cannot simply say, "It's because of the Japan-US Security Agreement system." One can only conclude that "discrimination" is the reality here: The government of Japan says, "It's only Okinawa, so it's fine."

Right now, there is a popular, non-violent demonstration continuing in front of the gate into Futenma Base. An 85 year-old and a 70 year-old have held hunger strikes. People are putting their lives on the line to oppose the injustice. Christians in Okinawa are also taking a stand, and have formed a group that calls itself the "Futenma Base Gate-front Gospel Singers." Each week they sing praises to Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, and they protest, "NO OSPREY! NO RAPE! NO BASE!" We must not allow human rights to be dismissed, or life to be threatened, no matter where we live.

u.s. Military Base Map in Okinawa