Government approves basic plan on constructing state-of-the-art U.S. military base at Nago

The government, Okinawa Prefecture, and related municipal governments on July 29 agreed on a basic plan to construct a state-of-the-art military airbase for U.S. Forces in Japan by reclaiming a coral reef off Nago City in Okinawa Prefecture.

The base plan was originally set out as an alternative to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City. The new airport plan with a 2,000-meter runway and reclamation of 97 hectares of coral reef, means the complete destruction of Nago's rich natural environment.

The new base will require 330 billion yen (2.75 billion dollars) for construction, and 80 million yen (666,000 dollars) as annual maintenance costs.

Concerning the prefectural and municipal governments' demand that the new military base may not be used for more than 15 years, the central government just said that it will make efforts to meet that demand.

Commenting on the base plan, Shimabukuro Haruo, Yanbaru (Northern Okinawa) United Actions Liaison Council representative, said, "The agreement completely ignored local residents' wishes as shown by the 1997 referendum of Nago City. We are resolved to fight against the plan until the government gives up the plan."

Kinjo Yuji, Association for Life representative, said, "The government is in subservience to the U.S. Is this an independent country? The Sea of Henoko (off Nago City) has many values. How can we ruin it?"

Higashionna Takuma, Save the Dugong Foundation secretary general, said, "To designate the sea off the Eastern coast of Okinawa as a sanctuary for dugongs is the way for the rare species to survive in this region and for Okinawans to survive in peace."

Terrible plan on the 30th anniversary of Okinawa's return to Japan: Akahata

The July 30 issue of Akahata said:

Okinawa's new base plan is meant to perpetuate the U.S. military base by establishing a state-of-the-art U.S. military base which urges Okinawa to further serve as a sortie base for U.S. global operations. This is incompatible with the public wish of "No more U.S. bases in Okinawa."

The new base is for use by the U.S. Marines 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, as the only U.S. Marine forces deployed overseas. This means that the base is not for the defense of Japan, as claimed by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, but for launching attacks all over the world.

Also, the U.S. is going to deploy 36 accident-prone MV-22 Ospreys to the new base. If deployed, it will make it possible for the U.S. Forces in Okinawa to directly cover the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan region.

The "Sea-Based Facilities (SBF) and all associated structures shall be designed for a 40 year operational life with a 200 year fatigue life," according to the 1997 U.S. Department of Defense report.

The Japan-U.S. agreement on the replacement of Futenma's station was made in 1996 as a Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) decision, when they faced strong public calls for realignment and reduction of U.S. bases in Okinawa.

The new base plan indicates that the Japanese government is resolved to support reinforcing operational capabilities of U.S. military bases in Japan.

To eliminate the heavy burden caused by U.S. military bases in Okinawa, there is no alternative but to have them completely withdrawn. We should not allow their replacements within the tiny island. (end)