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Say 'No' to new base in Nago's mayoral election
Akahata editorial (excerpts)
Voting will take place on January 22 in the mayoral election of Nago City in Okinawa Prefecture.
At issue in this election is whether voters will give their "No" verdict on the Japanese-U.S. government plan to construct a new Marine base on the coastline in the Henoko district as a replacement of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City.
Candidate Gakiya Munehiro, supported by the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Mass Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party, has made clear his firm opposition to the plan. He says he is opposed to the plan to concentrate U.S. bases in northern Okinawa, including Nago, as part of the U.S. military realignment.
The new base, if constructed, will be a state-of-the-art air base situated chiefly at the U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab's barrack area and on reclaimed shallows in Oura Bay and Henoko, requiring about 100 hectares in total. With a 1,800-meter runway, it will be used not just by large transport helicopters, but also by fighters and other fixed wing aircraft. It will have hangars, maintenance facilities, and a pier for oil supply.
Near the new base site are the U.S. bases of Camp Schwab and Camp Hansen where ground combat units are located, as well as exercise fields. The pier will be accessed by high-speed vessels as well as assault landing ships. It will also be used as a sortie base to swiftly launch first strikes.
The new base plan constitutes the centerpiece of the U.S. government's plan to drastically increase U.S. forces' operational readiness in Okinawa, Hawaii, and Guam to make preemptive strikes. Once constructed, the new base will be a main tool for the realignment of the U.S. Marines, while seriously affecting the lives, safety, and environment of Nago citizens.
Villages situated to the west of the base will be exposed to possible aircraft crashes and unbearable noise. Once built, the rich ecosystem of the shallows in Henoko and Oura Bay that offers the feeding grounds for a rare species of dugong will be destroyed.
The Okinawa Prefectural Government has rejected the new plan to construct a new base at the coastal area because it will have a damaging effect on residents. Ignoring this opposition and again urging this plan onto the prefectural people cannot be accepted.
Another candidate Shimabukuro Yoshikazu, supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komei Party, has never opposed the plan to construct the state-of-the-art air base at Henoko, though he says he is 'opposed' to the present coastal area plan.
Raising objections to the plan will serve to safeguard Nago citizens and defend peace in Asia and the rest of the world. Gakiya's victory will help promote the realization of an Okinawa without military bases.
-Akahata, January 13, 2006
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