Japan-U.S. talks must focus on 'removal of bases' -- Akahata editorial, October 9

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has suggested relocating some of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa to Japan's mainland, saying, "The public is generally supportive of the idea. But when it comes to specifying the locations, local governments concerned will oppose the plan, and the plan will go bust. I hope that local governments other than Okinawa will be more responsive in volunteering to share the burden of U.S. bases." This remark shows that the agreement at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting to reduce the local burden of U.S. military bases aims at just dispersing the burden of the U.S. forces in Okinawa to localities in mainland Japan. It also means that the government is trying to impose on the people the realignment plan of U.S. forces in Japan as intended by U.S. President Bush.

Base-related damage

Soon after the Japan-U.S. summit talks, a senior U.S. government official stated that Koizumi commended the U.S. realignment program and that he is now making efforts to speed up the realignment talks. Based on this pledge he made at the summit, Prime Minister Koizumi is trying to persuade concerned local municipalities to accept the plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan. The realignment plan, however, is absolutely unacceptable because it intends to extend the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to cover the whole world and that it is likely to increase the serious dangers arising from U.S. military bases.

In his speech on August 16, President George W. Bush made it clear that the realignment is to enable strikes anywhere in the world over great distances on short notice. This means that the U.S. president wants the U.S. forces in Japan to be ready to attack other countries throughout the world. This contradicts the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty that stipulates that the purpose of stationing 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.

What's more, the plan will only help to perpetuate U.S. military bases in Japan and cause more damages to areas near U.S. bases. The present plan is designed to strengthen the functions of U.S. bases in Japan through a mix of consolidation and the promotion of joint use between U.S. forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. It will not lead to a substantial cut in the U.S. military presence in Japan or a removal of U.S. bases in Japan. As stated by a senior U.S. government official on September 21, there will be no substantial cuts in personnel for the U.S. Forces in Japan, while a drastic cut is expected for those in Germany and South Korea.

Okinawans' demand that U.S. bases be promptly withdrawn from Okinawa as the only way to reduce their burdens is shared by the entire nation. However, this does not mean that a relocation of some of the U.S. Marines to mainland Japan will help solve the present problem. If this plan is implemented, residents near U.S. bases in Okinawa will continue to be forced to be prepared for U.S. aircraft crashes and various crimes by U.S. personnel.

Undoubtedly, local governments and people in some mainland areas which have been selected as possible sites for the U.S. Marines to relocate from Okinawa will face more damages from U.S. exercises.

For example, in Kanagawa Prefecture, residents near the U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Station are forced to endure unbearable noise caused by touch-and-go (night landing) practices with carrier-based aircraft. Similar sufferings are serious in areas adjacent to the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, the U.S. Marine Iwakuni Air Facility in Yamaguchi, and the U.S. Misawa Air Base in Aomori. Also, residents near the Ground SDF bases at Kita-Fuji in Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures as well as the Yausubetsu exercise ground in Hokkaido have been disturbed by the deafening noise of howitzers used in training by U.S. Marines. It is no wonder that these local governments and residents call for no more damages from U.S. bases and for the removal of U.S. military bases.

Prime Minister Koizumi criticized these local governments and residents for being irresponsible in regard to the U.S. transformation plan. Koizumi must stop acting as a U.S. agent in Japan.

Work for public interest

Japan should not accept this U.S. demand for U.S. bases in Okinawa to be relocated to somewhere else in Japan. Koizumi has recently hinted at removing the U.S. forces from Japan. If it is true, he should use the talks to urge the U.S. to drastically reduce the U.S. military presence and dismantle the U.S. bases so that damages from Futenma, Atsugi, and other U.S. bases will be eliminated. The prime minister must represent the Japanese people instead of acting as told by the United States. (end)

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