Koizumi should demand removal of U.S. Futenma base at Japan-U.S. summit talks -- Akahata editorial, September 18

At the Japan-U.S. Summit meeting scheduled for September 21, realignment of U.S. forces in Japan is expected to be an agenda item. Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro reportedly plans to request the U.S. to "reduce the burdens of U.S. bases on Japanese citizens" and "maintain U.S. forces in Japan as deterrent." If he is serious about seeking to "reduce the burdens", he should demand an immediate closure and early removal of the U.S. Futenma base in order to prevent the reoccurrence of a U.S. military helicopter crash. He will not be able to defend Japanese citizens' interests if he accepts the present plan of U.S. military realignment and agrees to strengthen the Japan-U.S. military alliance.

Base reorganization plan even conflicts with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

On August 13, a large transport helicopter which took off from the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station crashed at Okinawa International University, located in a residential area in Ginowan City. The accident proved that the Futenma base is one of the most dangerous bases in the world. At the September 12 anti-base rally in Ginowan City, about 30,000 residents expressed their fear being forced to live side by side with the danger of aircraft crashes and strongly demanded a closure of the base. The urgent need is to ensure the safety of the 88,000 Ginowan residents by immediately halting all U.S. flight activities, close the Futenma base, and have the base site returned. The government has a duty to defend the lives and properties of the people. If it sticks to the plan to relocate the Futenma base to another part of Okinawa, the solution of the issue will be delayed and Ginowan residents will continue to be exposed to danger.

The big question here is what Prime Minister Koizumi would say about Bush's plan for the "transformation" of U.S. forces in Japan.

The U.S. military realignment plan will give U.S. allies a greater role, build up military forces for quick deployment, deploy forces globally, maintain flexible coordination with allies for quick deployment, and attach importance to improving military capabilities.

One must not overlook the fact that this realignment plan is one of deploying U.S. forces in Japan to any place according to the need of war the United States starts by invoking its preemptive war strategy, whether it is in the Asia-Pacific region or the Middle East.

This plan will "transform" U.S. military bases in Japan into major stepping stones for projecting forces to anywhere throughout the world in violation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty makes it clear that the purpose of the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan is to contribute to "the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East."

It is this provision that obliges the government to make excuses every time U.S. forces in Japan are deployed to Iraq or other distant regions in response to criticism raised in the Diet that such force movements contravene the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

The present "transformation" plan will pave the way for allowing the United States to maintain its military bases in Japan indefinitely.

Bush says that his "war on terrorism" needs "transformation" of U.S. forces. If so, U.S. forces in Japan will never leave unless terrorism is totally eradicated.

No stationing of forces without host-nation consent

At a press conference on March 25, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that the United States will not station U.S. forces where local opposition persists. He also said that the "transformation" plan will not be adopted unless the United States obtains a host-nation consent.

The task now is for Prime Minister Koizumi to clearly tell the United States that Okinawans are strongly demanding a closure of military bases on their soil, return of the base sites, and no relocation of the Futenma base to Nago, and that residents near U.S. Camp Zama are opposing the plan to relocate the U.S. Army's First Division command to Zama.

If Prime Minister Koizumi does not let President Bush know about public opposition to the realignment plan, the Japanese people's distrust in him will become even greater. (end)

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