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Monday, March 08, 2010

PNP's proposals for Okinawa

Here are junior coalition partner People's New Party(PNP)'s Mikio Shimoji's complicated proposals in Japanese (Ryukyu Shimpo). http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100307-00000007-ryu-oki (pasted at the very end). Scroll down also for the Stars and Stripes report of this plan.

To summarize the Ryukyu Shimpo report in English,
- To transfer 23 helicopters from Futenma to Kadena. There will be no foreign aircrafts training in Kadena. This plan will reduce the number of take-off and landing from 76,000 to 36,000.
- To build a 1,500m runway and a helipad within Camp Schwab
- The conditions for above plans are 1) Withdrawals of all Okinawa Marines in 15 years; 2) increase training transfer to outside the prefecture and outside the country to 6 months; 3) revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
- The training transfer sites within the country are Hiju-dai (Oita), Higashi-fuji (Shizuoka), Omura (Nagasaki), Iwakuni (Yamaguchi), Misawa (Aomori), and Kansai (Osaka).
- The training transfer sites outside the country are Guam, Northern Marianas, and Philippines.

Shimoji wants "closure" of Futenma for 10 years, not "return." Then build a helipad AND a 1500m runway on the ground of Camp Schwab (possibly with Shimoji's family business interest.) He plans withdrawal of Marines within 15 years and a revision of SOFA. He thinks his plan is realistic, concrete and will gain more support from Okinawans than others ones lacking concreteness. He doesn't think Okinawans' opposition is not a reason to change his plan and he is sorry that his plan is not congruent with Nago Mayor's intention.

Am I the only one that thinks with Shimoji's plan, all things will be expanded - training will expand to all these other Japanese bases and airports, Guam and Northern Marianas, Futenma being "closed" still for military use instead of returned, and two new facilities to be built on Camp Schwab, possibly with the interest of Shimoji's family's construction business?

This plan cannot be possibly acceptable to Okinawans, from the ambiguity of how Futenma will be used for the 10 years while it is "closed," and from the plan of building a 1,500 meters runway AND a helipad within Camp Schwab.

Japanese lawmaker to propose Futenma plan
Minority member wants Marines gone in 15 years
http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=68519&source=rss

By Chiyomi Sumida, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, March 8, 2010

NAHA, Okinawa — A minority member of Japan’s new coalition government is ready to go along with U.S. Marine Corps air operations remaining on Okinawa, under one condition: All Marines must leave the island within 15 years.

Mikio Shimoji, a member of a committee studying the 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement to close Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and move the Marine units to a new facility on Camp Schwab and reclaimed land in Oura Bay, told about 300 supporters here Saturday that his People’s New Party has two proposals for alternate sites for the Marines.

A member of the Japan Diet from Okinawa, Shimoji told the crowd his party supports either moving the Marines to Kadena Air Base or to a large helipad on another part of Camp Schwab away from the water. He said his party and the other minority members of the coalition, the Social Democratic Party, will present their proposals Monday in Tokyo to Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, who chairs the review committee.

Shimoji is seen as a maverick on Okinawa, where even the conservative governor is joining the chorus demanding that the Marine air units be relocated outside the island prefecture. Last month the prefectural assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding Futenma be closed immediately and operations be moved off Okinawa.

The People’s New Party demand that all Marines leave Okinawa 15 years after the move of the air units to a replacement facility on the island is seen as a way to make the plan more acceptable to the base opposition.

For Okinawa’s future, Shimoji said Saturday, a nonpermanent presence of the U.S. military is what the island must seek.

Shimoji said his party’s first proposal is to move the bulk of Futenma operations to Kadena Air Base and move fighter jet training to bases in mainland Japan, including to Misawa Air Base and to Kansai Airport in Osaka, where the governor has indicated a positive stance on accepting military training at the international airport. The other proposal is to move the air operations to Camp Schwab’s inland area, with construction of a 1,500-meter-long runway.

Shimoji said his party’s two proposals would satisfy the operational requirements of the Marine Corps.

He said the Social Democratic Party also has two proposals — moving Marine air operations to Guam or to a Japan Air Self-Defense Force installation in mainland Japan.

According to Japanese press reports, the majority Democratic Party of Japan is set to support the alternate Camp Schwab plan or construction of a new air station on reclaimed land between the Navy’s White Beach and Tsuken Island.

Shimoji said that if Hatoyama doesn’t accept an alternate to the current relocation plan, his party would leave the coalition.

"If Prime Minister Hatoyama does not make a decision by the end of May, as he has promised, we will become an opposition party," he said.

However, some Okinawans appear to be growing weary of the debate. Closing Futenma has been on the drawing board since 1996. At a shopping mall in Ginowan, which hosts the base, shoppers were skeptical that Marine air operations, stationed in the middle of the city since the end of World War II, could be moved off the island.

"In reality, I think it is very difficult," said a 33-year-old Naha man, who gave only his family name of Kishimoto. He said he thinks Hatoyama is about to break his campaign promise to move the Marine base outside Okinawa.

Keiei Tome, 62, of Urasoe, said he’s beginning to realize Okinawa has very little choice but to accept the Marines staying on the island.

His 19-year-old son, Inori Tome, said Hatoyama ought to listen to the voice of Okinawa.

"Okinawa’s consensus is not to build a new military base at Henoko [and Oura Bay]," he said. "If a base must be built by damaging Okinawa’s precious sea environment, then the current base might as well stay where it is."

Here is Ryukyu Shimpo's report of Shimoji's plan. Bolded letteres are by the editor of this blog.

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100307-00000007-ryu-oki

国民新党の下地幹郎国対委員長(衆院議員)は6日、那覇市のパシフィックホテル沖縄で支持者を対象にした会合を開き、米軍普天間飛行場移設で国民新がまとめた「暫定嘉手納基地騒音低減案」「暫定キャンプ・シュワブ陸上案」の2案を説明した。両案とも在沖海兵隊を15年で国外撤退させるための暫定措置とし、それまでの間、県外・国外での訓練移転を増やすことで基地負担を軽減する。普天間飛行場は返還ではなく10年間閉鎖する。海兵隊の15年期限は日米で協定を締結する。
 下地氏は「首相が沿岸案や普天間をそのままにするという判断をするなら、野党になって闘う」と述べ、政府の決定次第では政権離脱する可能性も示唆した。
 嘉手納案は外来機訓練をなくすことを前提に、普天間のヘリ23機を移駐させる。離着陸回数は7・6万回から3・6万回へと半減させる。シュワブ陸上案は1500メートルの滑走路を山側に造る。普天間の訓練移転のためのヘリパッドも建設する。
 これらを実現するための条件として(1)在沖海兵隊15年後撤退(2)県外・国外への訓練移転を6カ月に拡大(3)日米地位協定の抜本改定の交渉開始―などを挙げる。
 下地氏は「今は本土に海兵隊を受け入れる素地がない。まず訓練移転をして、15年後にグアムやサイパンに持っていく。今は普天間の危険性除去を現実的にやるのが先だ」と訴えた。
 会合後の記者会見で、下地氏は「具体的ではない県外・国外移設案より、私の方が県民の理解を得られる」と強調した。

◆下地氏一問一答 具体的な負担軽減に
 ―嘉手納案の米軍の運用をどう制限していくのか。
 「基地使用協定を結ぶのが最善策。飛行ルートの問題などを細かく政府間で協議し決めなければならない」
 ―地元の合意も、米側理解も難しい。
 「沖縄側の意見を全部尊重すると、日米交渉は非常に困難になる。日米が安易に合意することだけを選択すると沖縄の反対の声も大きくなる。バランスを見ながら決断する」
 ―海兵隊国外撤退の15年期限をどう担保するのか。
 「稲嶺(恵一)前知事の使用期限は日米両政府と合意しなかった。県内移設をやる以上は、使用期限を合意しなければならない。“担保”というより、両政府の協定として合意させる」
 ―案の一部だけが認められることもあり得る。
 「普天間の放置や沿岸案は認められない。政治的に野党になるという判断をすべきだとも言っている。15年使用期限は避けられない条件だ」
 ―県内移設は反発が強まる。
 「反発が強まるから考え方を変えるということはない。具体的な提案を示せない県外・国外移設よりも県民に理解を得られるという思いを貫きたい。基地の整理縮小や県民の負担軽減をしたいのは私も同じだ」
 ―名護市長選との整合性は。
 「名護市長の公約を全部支持したというような形には少し反する。(前市長の)島袋(吉和)さんと比較して推薦し、政策も認めた。この部分で考え方が違うことは、公約違反となれば謝らなければならない。市長の思い通りの提案にならないことで迷惑をかける

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