Joint use plan set forth to deflect citizens' demand for return of base site -- Akahata editorial, March 28, 2005

Defense Agency Director General Ono Yoshinori asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for U.S. support for a plan to share U.S. bases in Japan between the U.S. forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

The joint use of military bases cannot be the way to reduce the burdens nearby residents are forced to endure because it will only allow those bases to exist indefinitely.

Making facilities always available to U.S. forces

Increasing the co-use of U.S. bases is a centerpiece of the Bush administration's military realignment plans. The plan not only will enable U.S. forces to use SDF bases, but will station the SDF at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and the U.S. Yokota Air base in Tokyo. U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith stated that U.S. forces and Japanese SDF personnel will share the same bases so that they can work on developing doctrine together, train together, and engage in combined operations. This idea has been developed with the aim of increasing the capability of the SDF to join U.S. preemptive wars like the Iraq war.

The co-use plan put forward by DA Director General Ono is in line with the U.S. policy. By transferring the management of bases to the SDF, the Japanese government is trying to deflect public criticism of the U.S. forces and to make U.S. bases in Japan always available to the U.S. forces.

Isn't it extraordinary that the U.S. still keeps its military bases in Tokyo and many other parts of Japan 60 years after the end of World War II?

Remember that U.S. military bases in Okinawa were constructed by the U.S. forces through a land-grab with bayonets. DA Director General Ono said on a TV program aired on March 18, "We must consider the historical context when discussing the meaning of force deployment in Okinawa, its weight, and the base burdens on Okinawa." In a series of serious incidents caused by U.S. forces in Okinawa, including the 1995 gang-rape of 12-year-old girl by three U.S. Marines and the U.S. helicopter crash at a university campus last year, calls for a return of the U.S. base sites are increasing. This has thwarted the plan to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa's Henoko district as a substitute for the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station.

The co-use of Japanese bases with U.S. forces has surfaced to deflect criticism and calls for the return of U.S. base sites to Japan. One example is the 1968 transfer of the U.S.-held Higashifuji exercise field to the SDF. Following the end of WWII, the U.S. occupation forces seized the Higashifuji exercise field and banned neighboring farmers from cultivating or planting trees around the field. This gave rise to calls for the return of the exercise field to Japan. Driven into a corner, the government secretly signed an agreement allowing the U.S. forces to use the exercise field for up to 270 days a year while officially maintaining SDF control of the field. This means that the government has given the U.S. forces priority rights over the SDF to use the exercise field at any time.

On September 8, 1960, at the first Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee, then foreign minister Kosaka Zentaro bluntly stated, "Returning the exercise field to the Defense Agency can convince the public that the SDF needs the field for its training. This will be very helpful for the government."

Still today, the U.S. forces continue to use it as their exclusive exercise ground.

The case of the Higashifuji exercise field shows that the co-use of Japanese bases only helps perpetuate the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan.

Withdraw U.S. bases! Abrogate Japan-U.S. military alliance!

Residents near U.S. bases, in particular Okinawans, have been adversely affected by the bases. Both the Japanese and U.S. governments, however, are not willing to discuss a reduction of U.S. troops or the removal of U.S. bases from Japan. The U.S. government intends to strengthen the functions of their bases in Japan as a foothold for global preemptive attacks.

It is more important than ever to call for U.S. bases to be reduced and eventually removed from Japan to demand the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the source of all these problems. (end)

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