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Monday, April 26, 2010

Okinawan Islands, in One Voice, One Place 県内移設反対を訴え、初の超党派県民大会



Yomitan Sports Park in Okinawa was filled with 90,000 people, and the event was over before a lot more people could make it there due to the heavy traffic. (Photo by Sasamoto Jun )

The banner reads, "We do not need a military either on the ocean or on the land." (photo by New York Times)

For the first time, an all-party, all-Okinawa rally was held about the issue of the return of Futenma Air Station.

At the April 25 rally at Yomitan Sports Park, over 90,000 Okinawans have stood up and spoken, again, but this time with the unprecedented all-party participation of the Governor, all Mayors of the 41 municipalities (39 attennding and 2 sending their reps) out of the 49 inhabited islands, members of the Prefectural Assembly, Chairs of the municipal assemblies, 8 out of the 9 Parliamentarians of the Lower and Upper Houses, even including LDP's Shimajiri Aiko. People's New Party's Shimoji Mikio, endorses a plan to build another base in Okinawa, was absent as expected.
The other parliamentarians present there included Shii Kazuo of Japan Communist Party, the only party head attending, Abe Tomoko, Shigeno Yasumasa, and Hattori Ryoichi of coalition's junior party SDP(Social Democratic Party of Japan). I was originally disappointed to know SDP's head Fukushima Mizuho wasn't there, but later on found out that she was attending the Tokyo rally on the same day, with 1,200 people holding candles forming the letters "NO BASE OKINAWA" (photo by Mainichi Shimbun) at Meiji Park.

Based on the success of the April 25 rally in Okinawa, representatives of the steering committee of the rally, including members of the Prefectural Assembly, will go to Tokyo on April 26 to submit the resolution of the rally, which calls for a swift closure and return of dangerous Futenma Air Station and for the government to give up the idea of building a replacement base within Okinawa (the resolution in Japanese is quoted below. I will post when an English version is available.)
Here are my scribbles just when I finished watching the rally live on the Ryukyu Shimpo's livestream link. Thank you Ten Thousand Things blog for quoting me even before I posted this.

"It just ended. Number: 90,000. With the rallies on the two other islands, 93,700. Not quite reached the goal, but significant.

My husband said: "Nakaima just had a loud voice."

Governor Nakaima just said two points: elimination of the Futenma danger, and reduction of base burden of Okinawans. Both ambiguous terms. He made only one clear point though: permanent use of Futenma could not be tolerated.

Well, PNP's Shimoji, the only MP who was absent (Even LDP's Shimajiri was there!!!), could say all those things too and stay politically correct.

But again, any Nakaima is better than No Nakaima.

The three mayors, Iha of Ginowan, Inamine of Nago, and Shimabuku of Uruma, all made powerful and convincing statements, though pretty much what they have been saying every day.

All 41 municipalities were there, 39 mayors attending and 2 their reps.

The biggest significance was that it was the first all-party rally of this magnitude. "


English-language reports of the event:

New York Times

NHK

Stars and Stripes

AP

CNN

BBC

Kyodo News Agency (Whole News Quoted Below)


Okinawans seek U.S. base removal from prefecture in mass rally
YOMITAN, Japan, April 25 KYODO

Anti-Futemma base rally in Okinawa child reacts to a speech during a rally calling for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Co...
By Maya Kaneko




  • About 90,000 local residents and politicians in Okinawa called for the removal of a U.S. Marine base located in a crowded residential area in the southernmost prefecture in a mass rally Sunday, venting their frustration against the central government which is struggling to resolve where the base should go.
    Many participants in the rally in the village of Yomitan were clad in yellow, the symbol color of the protest rally to demonstrate their ''yellow card'' warning against Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's government. They excitedly cheered for and gave applause to speakers.
    Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who has conditionally accepted an existing Japan-U.S. plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station, urged Hatoyama to remove as soon as possible the danger of accidents and crimes involving the Futemma base and called for nationwide support to ease base-hosting burdens on Okinawans.
    The governor said he cannot allow the base to continue to sit in the densely populated area of Ginowan if the current efforts by the premier to transfer the facility out of the prefecture get bogged down.
    ''Some Cabinet ministers have indicated their tolerance for the possibility of Futemma airfield remaining as it is, but I say absolutely no to that,'' Nakaima told the rally participants. ''I want the prime minister to never give up and honor his pledge.''
    Before his Democratic Party of Japan came to power last September, Hatoyama promised Okinawa people that he will try to transfer the Futemma airfield out of the prefecture or even abroad. The premier has vowed to settle the issue by the end of May.
    Nakaima also said burdens to host U.S. military bases in Okinawa have exceeded the capacity of locals and asked people in other parts of Japan to ''lend a helping hand'' to ease them.
    ''This is not a problem that only concerns Okinawans. The safety of each Japanese individual is connected to Okinawa,'' the governor said, referring to the Japan-U.S. security arrangement.
    The island prefecture hosts about 75 percent of the land area used for U.S. military facilities in Japan and half of the around 50,000 U.S. service personnel in the country.
    Under the 2006 bilateral accord, the heliport functions of the Futemma base would be transferred from Ginowan to a coastal zone in the Marine's Camp Schwab in Nago, also in Okinawa, by 2014.
    The United States has maintained its position that it prefers the existing plan.
    The governor told reporters after the gathering while it has become ''extremely difficult'' to implement the current Futemma relocation plan as it is, he expects Hatoyama to respond to the wishes of the 90,000 attendants and ''find the most appropriate solution as a veteran politician.''
    At the rally, Kana Okamoto and Narumi Shikiya, both 17-year-old students at Futemma Senior High School near the airfield, complained about the constant noise of U.S. Marine aircraft and said all bases in the prefecture should be removed.
    ''I sometimes feel the noise and danger of aircraft crashes as an everyday matter, but we should not think it cannot be helped,'' Okamoto said. ''I want everyone to face up to the base issue and make changes.''
    Most of the mayors of the 41 municipalities in the island prefecture, which has a population of around 1.4 million, attended the rally.
    Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine blasted the state for repeatedly suggesting contradictory policies on the Futemma issue.
    Touching on a news report Saturday that the government has indicated to the United States that Japan would broadly accept the current plan to transfer the Futemma facility to Nago, Inamine told the attendants, ''Such an erratic and unscrupulous manner ridicules Okinawans and we can never forgive that.''
    Uruma Mayor Toshio Shimabukuro also rejected any idea to move heliport functions of the Futemma facility to an artificial island to be constructed off the Katsuren Peninsula in the city, saying it would transform the community into a ''major military site.''
    All major political parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party, were represented for the first time at an anti-base convention in Okinawa.
    The LDP, which was defeated by Hatoyama's DPJ in last August's general election, was in government when the current Futemma relocation plan was forged.
    The convention adopted a resolution seeking the early closure of the Futemma facility and the return of the land it occupies as well as a slogan calling for the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and measures to boost the local economy.
    ''To save the life, property and living environment of citizens, we Okinawans urge both Japanese and U.S. governments to give up the relocation of the Futemma airfield within the prefecture,'' the resolution said.
    Prior to the mass rally, about 2,000 Yomitan villagers protested an alleged fatal hit-and-run case of a 66-year-old Japanese man in the village involving a U.S. Army member last November. They called for the SOFA revision, claiming the release on bail of the U.S. soldier earlier this month is ''unreasonable.''
    People in Okinawa have held mass protest rallies in the past following incidents such as the gang rape of a local schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen in 1995 and an education ministry instruction in 2007 to delete or rewrite references in history textbooks to the Imperial Japanese Army's role in coercing civilians to commit mass suicide during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.
    ==Kyodo

琉球新報より
「普天間」は国外・県外へ 4・25県民大会、9万人が参加2010年4月25日

県民大会でシュプレヒコールする参加者ら=25日、読谷村運動広場
 「米軍普天間飛行場の早期閉鎖・返還と県内移設に反対し、国外・県外移設を求める県民大会」(実行委員会主催)が25日午後3時すぎ、読谷村運動広場で行われた。普天間飛行場の県内移設の反対を訴える超党派の大会は初めて。大会実行委は、渋滞で会場に到着できなかった人(1万人試算)を含め9万人が参加したと発表した。 県議会が2月に全会一致で可決した意見書に基づき、日米両政府に県内移設の断念を求める大会決議を採択した。
 大会であいさつに立った仲井真弘多知事は「政府は1日も早く普天間の危険性を除去してほしい。ネバーギブアップで、公約に沿った形でしっかりやってほしい」と述べ、先の衆院選で鳩山由紀夫首相が約束した県外・国外移設の履行を求めた。さらに「普天間問題は沖縄だけの問題ではなない。過重な基地負担の軽減に手を差し伸べてほしい」と呼び掛け、日米安保をめぐる本質的な議論を深めるよう全国に向けて訴えた。
 県内移設の反対を県民の総意として訴えた大会は、5月末の決着を目指した政府の移設先見直し作業に大きな影響を及ぼす。参加者は大会のシンボルカラーである「黄色」のTシャツや小物、ステッカーを身に付け、県内移設に傾く政府に「イエローカード」の意思表示を発信した。。【琉球新報電子版】

▽大会決議文
 普天間飛行場の返還は平成8年日米特別行動委員会(SACO)合意から13年経過した今なお実現を見ることはなく、その危険性は放置されたままです。
 しかも、平成16年(2004年)8月13日に発生した沖縄国際大学構内への米軍海兵隊所属CH53D大型輸送機ヘリコプターの墜落事故は、市街地に位置し、住宅や学校等が密集する普天間飛行場の危険極まりない現実を明らかにしました。一歩間違えば大惨事を引き起こしかねず「世界一危険な飛行場」の存在を改めて内外に明らかにしています。しかも、平成18年(2006年)の在日米軍再編協議では同飛行場の全面返還を合意しており、県民や宜野湾市民は、最も危険な普天間飛行場を早期に全面返還し、政府の責任において跡地利用等課題解決を求めているのです。
 私たち沖縄県民は、去る大戦の悲惨な教訓から戦後一貫して「命どぅ宝」、基地のない平和で安全な沖縄を希求してきました。にも関わらずSACO合意の「普天間飛行場条件つき返還」は新たな基地の県内移設に他なりません。
 県民の意思はこれまで行われた住民投票や県民大会、各種世論調査などで明確に示され、移設先とされた名護市辺野古沿岸域は国の天然記念物で、国際保護獣のジュゴンをはじめとする希少生物をはぐくむ貴重な海域であり、また新たなサンゴ群落が見つかるなど世界にも類をみない美しい海域であることが確認されています。
 名護市長は、辺野古の海上及び陸上への基地建設に反対しています。また、勝連半島沖埋め立て案についてはうるま市長・市議会ともに反対を表明しています。
 よって、私たち沖縄県民は、県民の生命・財産・生活環境を守る立場から、日米両政府が普天間飛行場を早期に閉鎖・返還するとともに、県内移設を断念し、国外・県外に移設されるよう強く求めるものです。
 以上決議する。
 
▽大会スローガン
 日米地位協定の抜本的改定を求める。
 返還後の跡地利用を促進するため、国の責任で、環境浄化、経済対策などを求める。
 返還に伴う、地権者補償、基地従業員の雇用確保を国の責任で行うよう求める。
     2010年4月25日
     4・25県民大会

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