Now it is official. (See the below Kyodo News.)
The Futenma "replacement" plan has come back to Henoko.
The DPJ-led coalition government is planning not just to build an airbase in Henoko, where the previous LDP goverment was going to build anyway, but on top of that, they are planning to bring U.S. Marine training to Tokunoshima, an island 200 km Northeast of Okinawa.
What nerve would DPJ have in calling the plan for this additional military expansion into Tokunoshima a "ken-gai" plan, as if they were were partially meeting their pre-election pledge to move Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa Prefecture?
Prime Minister Hatoyama and other Cabinet members, at some point between December 2009 and now, started using the word "kecchaku 決着" more and more often than "ketsuron 結論," referring to the conclusion to be made at the end of May. Back in December 2009, Hatoyama announced his decision to postpone his ketsuron until May. Not that it is May, he and other Cabinet members are almost exclusively using the word kecchaku. Both words can be translated as "conclusion," but "kecchaku" has a stronger, and a more decisive connotation than "ketsuron." There can be different interpretations, but to me, "kecchaku" is something that can be reached with some force, and "ketsuron" is something to be reached by consensus of all parties concerned. It is apparent which concerned party the government is more and more inclined to convince with some kind of force... the local residents.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano Hirofumi is set to visit Tokunoshima Island on May 12, saying "There are different opinions in Tokunoshima. I hope this will be one opportunity to learn the public opinion("min-yi" 民意, literally meaning "citizens' will") of Tokunoshima." Well, anybody who had any concern about the Futenma issue for the past couple of months had to be locked up in a prison cell to have any need at this point to learn about the citizens' will in Tokunoshima, where all the three mayors have repeatedly expressed opposition and the rally of an unprecedented scale was held less than a month ago.
It is just remarkable how these politicians play with these words... Hirano is the one who stirred a controversy by saying that it was not necessary to pay consideration to "min-yi," hours after the victory of the anti-base candidate of Nago election on January 24. Now he is using taxpayer's money to fly to Tokunoshima to find a "min-yi" that will be convenient for him and his government's plan to move U.S. Marine training to the small island, which is part of the larger Ryukyuan (Okinawan) culture.
Hatoyama avoided the worst humiliation to Okinawans by changing his plan to re-visit Okinawa on May 15, the anniversary day of 1972 return of Okinawa to Japan. His visit there for another attempt to convince the Governor and Mayors to accept a new base is now scheduled on May 23. Okinawan's collective determination for refusing a new base within the prefecture will not change between his first visit on May 4 and this second visit; it will only strengthen as the government's scheme becomes clearer. On May 16, another "Human-Chain Action" is planned by Ginowan City, where thousands of people will gather and hold hands to surround Futenma Air Station.
"Henoko Beach News" blog entry of May 11 simply says,
"We will just continue to sit here to stop the base construction."
- Kyodo News, Wednesday May 12
Gov't draft states Nago as Futenma relocation site as in 2006 deal
Wednesday 12th May, 06:09 AM JST
In a draft relocation plan obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama specifies the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, as a relocation site for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in the same prefecture, in line with an existing deal signed by Tokyo and Washington in 2006.
In an apparent bid to highlight the government’s efforts to review the deal in which the two countries agreed to reclaim land in Henoko, the draft proposes examining the feasibility of building a pile-supported runway in shallow waters instead and stipulates that the government will give ‘‘utmost consideration’’ to local life and the environment in its construction.
The eight-month-old government, which has increasingly lost public support partly because of its handling of the base issue, has given up on meeting the May 31 deadline set by Hatoyama for settling the dispute amid strong local opposition to maintaining any of the Futenma base’s functions in Okinawa.
The draft also names Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, about 200 kilometers northeast of Okinawa as a possible site for the relocation of some of the Marine functions or drills, while suggesting some drills be transferred to Self-Defense Forces’ bases across the country, Guam or other places outside of Japan.
The details of the drill relocation will be decided through negotiations between Japan and the United States, it says.
It also incorporates the idea of concluding a special treaty to oblige the United States to preserve the environment at U.S. military bases in Japan, following the discovery at some facilities of dioxin levels in excess of Japanese environmental standards.
Specifically, the draft states that the government will construct a 1,600 to 1,800 meter runway around ‘‘Henoko in the city of Nago where the coast of (the Marines’) Camp Schwab is located’’ and that experts from both Japan and the United States will study the technical feasibility of construction methods for the runway including pile support.
The Hatoyama government is aiming to present the plan at the second round of bilateral working-level talks to be held in Washington on Wednesday.
But the government is likely to face continuing difficulties as local people in Nago and Okinawa as a whole are adamantly opposed to any base relocation within the prefecture, while a pile-supported structure has raised eyebrows among officials in Washington who claim it could take a longer time to complete and could increase the risk of a terrorist attack.
In an effort to alleviate the burden on residents of Okinawa from hosting bases, the draft calls for a reduction in noise at the Kadena Air Base by relocating more drills conducted there.
The government aims to forge a basic agreement with the United States on the return of part of the ‘‘Hotel Hotel’’ water area, which lies east of the main Okinawa island, while the details will be decided later by the two countries.
It will also seek to agree with the United States on accelerating the return of the industrial area of the Marines’ Camp Zukeran as well as a detailed road map on the return of the Makiminato Service Area along the west coast of the island.
The draft also states that Japan and the United States will proceed smoothly with the transfer of around 8,000 Marines in Okinawa to Guam and the full return of the Kadena and Futenma bases and three other facilities located to the south of Kadena.
It also adds that the government will sincerely respond to the demand from Okinawa to reduce the burden on local residents.