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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Is Tokunoshima Really Outside of Okinawa? 徳之島案は「県外」とは言えない

According to Ryukyu Shimpo (April 6 and 7 - quoted below in Japanese), Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano Hirofumi in Tokyo on April 1. Hirano talked about three plans - building a heliport within the inland section of Camp Schwab, reclaiming to build an artificial island off Katsuren Peninsula, and moving part of the Futenma training functions to Tokunoshima Island (photo above), a Kagoshima Prefecture island 200 kilometer north of Okinawa Island. Nakaima indicated that it was not a written proposal and he did not consider it official. Although the details and emphasis on the different components of the plan seem to differ depending on who speaks (Hirano, Kitazawa or Okada) about it, the government's mind seems to be set on the combination of these three plans - to temporarily move the training functions of Futenma to Tokunoshima Island and Camp Schwab (on the 500m X 500m heliport to be built in the inland section) while the mega reclamation project off Katsuren (White Beach) is underway.

Hirano before told Nakaima that, although the government hopes for the "best" plan, eventually they might have to settle for the "better" plan. Ryukyu Shimpo called this plan the "worst" in its March 27th Editorial, one with which Okinawa would end up with two additional bases. The new Camp Schwab heliport would simply mean transfer of Futenma dangers (noise and accident risks) to the communities of Nago, neighbouring Camp Schwab. Other concerns include destruction of the forests and red soil flowing into the ocean. The planned artificial island off Katuren is a lot bigger than the coastal Henoko plan in the 2006 Agreement.

Medoruma Shun on March 31
refers to the April 3 issue of Weekly Gendai that reported that Ota Norio, head of the Okinawa Chamber of Commerce approached Hatoyama Government right after its inception in September 2009. Ota met with DPJ's Secretary General Ozawa Ichiro on October 15 to present this plan, which had a "favourable response" from Ozawa. In the NHK news analysis program "Close-up Gendai" on April 1, it was also reported that Makino Seishu, a DPJ parliamentarian was frequenting trips to Tokunoshima Island and was often seen having intimate conversation with Hatoyama during the Diet sessions.

Governor Nakaima expressed his strong opposition to the plans saying that Okinawans wanted the Futenma Air Station to be relocated outside of the prefecture. Nakaima, however, is showing reservations to the idea of attending the Okinawa Citizens' Rally planned on April 25, to which its organizers are expecting to draw 100,000 people, about 10% of Okinawa's population. Governor's participation will be a key to the success of this rally, according to the Ryukyu Shimpo on April 7, and both Japanese and US Governments are paying close attention to it.

Above is a map of Kagoshima Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture of Kyushu, north of Okinawa. Tokunoshima Island, one of the Amami Islands, is the fourth island from the bottom, just south of the bigger Amami Oshima. Medoruma in his April 5 blog quotes Ota Masahide, former Okinawa Governor from a new book "Future of Okinawa" (Fuyo Shobo, 2010) on the question of why Okinawa only, out of all the 47 prefectures of Japan, was separated from Japan when it was the whole country that lost the war to the U.S. Ota discovered many shocking facts in his extensive research of the US archives. US started planning the occupation of Okinawa two years before the start of the Battle of Okinawa, which began by the invasion of Kerama Islands, east of the main Okinawa Island on March 26, 1945. Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered the occupation of the islands south of the 30 degrees latitude north. Then Assistant Secretary of State Dean Acheson testified in the US Congress that they made that decision because the 30 degrees line was the border between "Yamato(Japanese) Race" and "Ryukyu(Okinawa) Race," and also because they wanted to maximize the occupiable area beyond Okinawa Prefecture. From the Japanese perspective too, according to Ota, that the Emperor was only concerned with the protection of Japan's Mainland and protection of the Imperial System. The Emperor and the government leaders then did not consider Okinawa as inherent lands of Japan.

Medoruma quoted Ota's research and analysis because the current government's plan for Futenma relocation are ALL underneath the 30 degrees latitude north. When the Hatoyama Administratoin proudly referred the Tokunoshima plan as a "kengai" plan (a plan to move Futenma Air Station out of Okinawa Prefecture), "many Okinawans and residents of Amami islands must have perceived the deep-rooted discrimination in the minds of 'Yamatonchu'(Okinawan way of calling the people of Mainland Japan)," Medoruma says. "Presenting Tokunoshima as a "kengai" plan only reminds Okinawans of the history of Japan's unfair treatment of Okinawa and Amami Islands, and would only result in reinforcement of the resentment and anger of Okinawans."

In the above map, the 30 degrees latitude north line is just north of Kuchinoshima Island, a tiny island below the round-shaped island(Yakushima), south of mainland Kagoshima.

Technically Tokunoshima is outside Okinawa, but culturally and historically, it is not.


平野氏から3案提示 普天間移設先 


普天間移設「徳之島にまず移転」 平野長官、知事伝達 


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