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2010: New U.S. Airbase in Okinawa "must never happen"

Japan Prime Minister HATOYAMA:
New U.S. Airbase in Okinawa "must never happen"
April 24, 2010

by kyle

Japan PM rules out 2006 deal on US base on eve of rally

Sunday, April 25

TOKYO (AFP) Japans premier ruled out a plan for a new US airbase on Okinawa island Saturday, on the eve of a mass rally against the planned facility, in a row that has soured ties with Washington for months.

The centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last year launched a review of a 2006 pact to move an unpopular US base from a crowded city area of the southern island to a quieter coastal area, where locals also oppose it.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Tokyo had agreed to broadly stick with the original plan, in an online report published a day before 100,000 people on Okinawa were expected to protest against the US military presence.

Hatoyama, whose approval ratings have dived into the 20-percent range amid the long-festering row, denied the report and said he rejected the plan to build the replacement US airbase in Okinawas coastal area of Henoko.

It must never happen that we accept the existing plan, Hatoyama told reporters in televised comments, effectively scrapping the agreement to move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma there in coming years.

Building the new base with runways that would destroy a fragile marine habitat would be blasphemy against the nature, Hatoyama said, according to the Jiji Press news agency.

The comments were the latest twist in an issue that started when Hatoyamas government took power in September, ending more than half a century of conservative rule and vowing more equal relations with Washington.

Hatoyama and his left-leaning allies pledged to ease the burden of the people of Okinawa, who have since World War II hosted a heavy US military presence and often complained of noise and frictions with American soldiers.

However, a search for an alternative site in Japan has yielded no viable options, as residents at the reported locations have also protested, while the Obama administration has insisted Tokyo honour the original agreement.

The premier, under questioning from a conservative lawmaker, on Friday staked his job on resolving the row by a self-declared end-of-May deadline.

Then the Washington Post reported Saturday that Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada had broadly accepted the 2006 pact in talks with US Ambassador John Roos at the US embassy in Tokyo on Friday, quoting unnamed sources.

The report also said President Barack Obama has bluntly told Hatoyama in a brief informal meeting in Washington this month that the two countries were running out of time and asked him whether he could be trusted.

The report that Tokyo had broadly agreed to implement the 2006 plan was also denied by Okada, who said on Saturday that its regrettable that such a report was published ahead of an important rally.

Up to 100,000 demonstrators, including Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima and more than 30 town mayors, were expected at the event in Yomitan near Kadena Air Base, the largest US military facility in the Asia Pacific region.

On Saturday dozens protested against the US base plan in Tokyo.

We are carrying out the protest here in Tokyo today to give momentum to Okinawa for tomorrow, Ryota Sono, an organiser, said as 70 demonstrators marched through the capitals entertainment district of Shinjuku.

Its really time to stand up and tell the United States to pull all US bases from Okinawa, the 28-year-old said.

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Präfektur Okinawa

2.273 km2 Fläche
98 Inseln
1,36 Mill. Einwohner
41 Gemeinden

Hauptstadt Naha
3 Universitäten
Große Militärbasis der USA

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No Base !

Gib uns den Frieden wieder

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