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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Airbases, a Military Port, and a Casino 目取真俊さんのブログより

This is an abbreviated translation of the blog post "The plan to move Futenma to off Katsuren Peninsula, and a casino idea on Miyako" by Medoruma Shun, an Okinawan author and blogger.

Kina Shokichi, a DPJ MP from Okinawa, met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano Hirofumi on March 10th. Hirano explained this plan to reclaim off Katsuren Peninsula for shared use as USMC airbase (as "relocation site" of Futenma), Air Self Defense Force (relocating from Naha) and as a US military port (also relocating from Naha). Hirano thought that this plan would be approved by Okinawans because the Air Self Defense Force, which shares the current Naha airport with civilian air services, will be returned.

I am appalled how shallow his understanding is about Okinawa. To build a USMC runway, then building another runway and a military port will require massive reclamation work, and the amount of drills would increase accordingly. How would he expect Okinawans to "understand" and accept such a plan presented immediately after the Henoko plan derailed? Hirano totally lacks any understanding of why voices against "relocating" Futenma within the prefecture have risen to this unprecedented level, and he seems even uninterested in knowing it.

Why has the plan to "relocate" Futenma Air Station stalled for the last 13 years? That was because Okinawa has already been saturated with US military bases and there simply isn't any more space to host more bases. Just "relocating" bases within the prefecture would not lead to any kind of "reduction of burdens" for Okinawans that politicians have been talking about. Returning Futenma may ease the burden for Ginowan City, but whichever community will host a new base will be burdened more. There always occurs a "division" in the community chosen as a host of a new base, between those who accept and don't accept the base. Knowing how Nago City was split around the new base plan in Henoko for the last thirteen years, Okinwans wouldn't want something like that happening in their own community.

Okinawans are angry over the discriminatory policy for the last 65 years of the Japanese and US governments that regards Okinawa as a scapegoat of the Japan-US Security Treaty. No matter what plan will be suggested, it won't be accepted by Okinawans as long as the relocation site is within Okinawa.

It is also reported that Hirano suggested developing a casino on Miyako Island. Miyako is the home town of MP Mikio Shimoji. Is this casino a reward for Shimoji for endorsing the "relocation within the prefecture?" This politician plans to prey on Okinawa by being part of the central government and profiting from the new base and the casino. This plan again involves massive reclamation, which will be associated with interests of the marine construction businesses.

Even if the government changes, there is no change in this structure of politicians, bureaucrats, and corporations flocking around the profits to be made by perpetuating the military bases in Okinawa. We must destroy such a structure.

(Photo: the ocean surrounding Miyako Island)

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