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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shimoji Yoshio: Takae's Helipad Issue - Criticizing Sen. Inouye 下地良男:イノウエ議員への反論、高江ヘリパッド問題

An Okinawan author Shimoji Yoshio refutes Sen. Inouye who urged early resolution of Futenma "relocation" issue, citing the ongoing struggle at another location in Okinawa - Takae, in the Yanbaru Forest. Since the end of 2010, Japanese Ministry of Defense has been forcefully proceeding with construction work for building six Osprey-capable helipads for the US Marine Corp jungle training center. The planned sites surround the neighbourhood of Takae and residents and supporters have been sitting-in to protest since 2007. Yesterday (February 16) a woman was injured during the struggle, but the Defense Ministry still continues their coercive construction work. We must stop this construction that will destroy the residents' life with noise and high risk of accidents, and will further destroy the rich Yanbaru forests, habitat for many rare and endangered species. PP

Yanbaru Forest in Northern Okinawa, where US and Japan are attempting to build Osprey helipads surrounding a residential neighbourhood. Photo by Shimoji Yoshio

Takae's helipad issue – criticizing Sen. Inouye

Futenma is not the only base issue anguishing Okinawa these days.  There's a village called Takae in northern Okinawa and the problem facing Takae is that, in return for an unused portion of the U.S. Marine Corps Northern Training Area, Tokyo agreed with Washington to construct six helipads (diameter: 75 meters each) for the U.S. Marines' V-22 Ospreys in the lush forests surrounding the village.

The helipad construction is apparently interconnected with the planned relocation of the Futenma air station to Henoko, located also in northern Okinawa.  The noise pollution caused by the Ospreys is said to be beyond human forbearance as the storm of protest showed lodged against the Marines on January 27 by the citizens of Brewton, Alabama, for the maneuvering of the Ospreys at the city’s airport.

Takae sits amidst lush forests and natural beauty.  Imagine how horrible its beautiful landscape would become if the construction actually started.  The training and the deafening noise of the infamous Ospreys would certainly destroy the peaceful environment for not only the Takae villagers but also those precious species, some already listed as endangered, that are indigenous to Yanbaru (or Northern Okinawa Highland).

According to the February 12 Japan Times, Senator Daniel Inouye again urged Tokyo to make headway for the early relocation of Futenma, saying “the U.S. side has been patient, although it cannot wait indefinitely.”  This is a gangster’s typical pet line when he intimidates others – that is, Senator Inouye is threatening Tokyo to expedite Washington’s decades-old design of Futenma’s relocation to Henoko.  

He may not know, but the Marines or the U.S. Navy representing them submitted to U.S. Congress every fiscal year in the 1960’s a blue print for the relocation of Futenma to Henoko for a budgetary approval, which was never approved because of sky-rocketing Vietnam War expenditures.  How dare he say “the U.S. side cannot wait indefinitely”?  That’s a laughing matter, indeed.  

Yoshio Shimoji
Naha, Okinawa

Here is the Japan Times article on February 12 that Shimoji is responding to.

Senator urges Futenma solution

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A leading U.S. senator said Thursday he hopes the issue of relocating a key U.S. Marine base in Okinawa will be resolved when Prime Minister Naoto Kan visits the United States for talks with President Barack Obama later this year.

A series of meetings between U.S. and Japanese security experts will hopefully "accommodate the summit where decisions would be made on the resolution of the so-called Futenma problem," Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat, said in Washington.

"I feel confident that it will result in the summit sometime this summer and the Futenma matter will be resolved," Inouye added.

Japan and the United States have agreed to transfer U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a residential area to a less densely populated coastal area farther north on Okinawa Island, but the plan has been stymied by local opposition. The Okinawa governor is seeking to move the base out of the prefecture.

Touching on the burdens that hosting U.S. bases in Okinawa, Inouye said, "We can't ignore the concerns of the people of Japan." But he added the U.S. side has been patient, although it cannot wait indefinitely.

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