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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nago "Military Landowners" Asked Not to Renew the Contract beyond 2012 to Oppose the Plan to Build a Runway within Camp Schwab

According to Ryukyu Shimpo, March 28, 2010, a meeting was held on March 27th in Henoko, Nago, Okinawa, in which Kohagura Hiroshi, head of "the special committee to deal with the Futenma Relocation Facility issue" tried to convince the landowners of the three Kube districts - Henoko, Kushi, and Toyohara not to renew the rent contract of their military-use land when the current contract expires in May 2012. This will be an expression of these landowners to reject the idea of constructing a runway within Camp Schwas as a "replacement facility"of Futenma Air Station. The three districts of Kube - Henoko, Kushi, Toyohara. (The above photo is from Ryukyu Shimpo website.)

Kohagura argues, "the three districts (Henoko, Kushi, Toyohara) are 100% against the inland Schwab relocation option. " He asked the two hundred landowners who gathered at the meeting not to submit the document to renew the contract until the government plan of Futenma relocation is determined. He fears that submitting such documents by the landowners could be interpreted that the local communities support the idea of building a runway within Camp Schwab.

According to Yoshikawa Hideki, Director of Okinawa Biodiversity Citizens' Network, building a runway within the inland section of Camp Schwab is not as easy as it's been said.

Yoshikawa commented on March 10,

  • "A new Henoko land plan, advocated infamously and most notably by Shimoji-san (the PNP parliamentarian who endorses this plan), has also been circulating.

    But, in my opinion, it would a very difficult one to implement, environmentally, politically, and technically.

    On the map, it looks easier to build an airport on the Henoko land area. No corals, no dugongs, no fishermen, etc.

    But when you go to Henoko and look at the hills, mountains, and trees at the planned area, one can easily see that it would require major construction (destruction) efforts.

    Besides, the prefecutural government and assembly, and municipal governments and assemblies are against the new land plan. All the political parties in Okinawa including the LDP, but not Shimoji san's, are also publicly opposing it."

The potential refusal by the landowners of Camp Schwab to renew the rent contract will be a strong addition to the mounting local voices against this option.


(Also see the Kyodo news at the bottom)

  • 普天間移設、陸上なら契約拒否 久辺3区が方針2010年3月28日


  • Okinawa, Kagoshima locals angered by gov't Futenma plan
    Saturday 27th March, 08:05 AM JST
    NAHA — (Kyodo)
    Local politicians and residents in Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures expressed strong dissatisfaction Friday after media reports that the central government is considering relocating a U.S. Marine base within Okinawa or to a Kagoshima island.

    With Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama having pledged to settle the issue of the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa by the end of May, strong local protests will make it difficult for him to meet the deadline.

    According to diplomatic sources, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos on Friday that Tokyo is considering a two-stage process, starting with the building of a 550-meter-long helipad at the inland part of the U.S. Marines’ Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa, to temporarily relocate some of the helicopter troops from the Futenma facility.

    As for the final relocation site, the government is considering an artificial island to be built off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s White Beach facility in Uruma, also in Okinawa, or Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, the sources said.

    Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine told reporters that he rejects the central government’s reported plan to temporarily move the Futenma functions to Camp Schwab.

    ‘‘There is no chance of that plan being accepted by locals,’’ Inamine said. ‘‘We cannot trust the government’s policy of transferring only temporarily. It’s impossible.’‘

    ‘‘I have been saying we are against the Futenma transfer to Camp Schwab with or without land reclamation,’’ the mayor said.

    Japan and the United States agreed in 2006 to relocate the heliport functions of the Futenma base to a coastal zone of Camp Schwab in Nago by 2014 by reclaiming land in the coastal area. The government’s new plan does not involve land reclamation.

    Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima told visiting Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa earlier in the day that local opposition to relocating the Futenma facility within the prefecture has been ‘‘gaining momentum’’ and asked him to ‘‘correctly convey’’ the sentiments of the people of Okinawa to the central government.

    In Uruma, where around 600 local residents held a rally Thursday to protest against a plan to relocate the Futenma base functions to the White Beach area, Seishu Sakihara, one of the protesters, said he cannot accept the government plan that ‘‘ignores the feelings of Okinawans.’‘

    The 76-year-old Uruma resident said the government is ‘‘trying to force us to accommodate a base.’‘

    On Tokunoshima Island, Koei Kabayama, the 55-year-old chief of a local environment and peace group, said the government’s attempt to seek a solution without consulting locals embodies ‘‘discrimination’’ against the islanders.

    Some local business circles have high expectations of increased state measures to boost the local economy in exchange for accepting the base, but Kabayama said he believes opposition has been growing rapidly due to residents’ mistrust of the government and their sense of crisis.

    Kabayama’s group and three towns on the island are scheduled to hold a protest rally on Sunday and are aiming to draw 3,000 participants. Akira Okubo, mayor of Isen, one of the three towns, said, ‘‘I’m enraged. Unless we islanders unite now, we will be in trouble.’‘

    In Tokyo, Mizuho Fukushima, leader of DPJ coalition partner the Social Democratic Party, reiterated Friday that her party is ‘‘clearly against’’ plans to relocate Futenma within Okinawa.

    She said the land reclamation plan around the White Beach facility would pose risks, as oil-storage bases are located nearby and the reclamation would destroy the marine environment.

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