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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 January 17 - 23  > Anti-base incumbent’s victory in Nago mayoral race will pave way for an Okinawa free of US bases
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2018 January 17 - 23 [POLITICS]

Anti-base incumbent’s victory in Nago mayoral race will pave way for an Okinawa free of US bases

January 21, 2018

Akahata ‘current’ column

The number of tourists visiting Okinawa exceeded nine million in 2017 for the first time, hitting an all-time high for five consecutive years. In this background reportedly lies an upsurge in the number of foreign tourists. The tropical beauty and charm of Okinawa attract inbound tourists. However, the presence of U.S. military bases tarnishes the prefecture’s charm.

The Okinawa prefectural government exaggerated tourism revenues, the right-wing daily Sankei Shimbun argued in its article early this year. Refuting this argument, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi referred to the fact that the ratio of U.S. base-related revenues to the prefecture’s economy continued to decrease after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972 and are at the 5% level. Stressing that the utilization of former U.S. base sites have made a great contribution to Okinawa’s economy, Onaga said, “The existence of U.S. military facilities seriously inhibits the prefecture’s potential for economic growth.”

U.S. bases pose threats to Okinawans’ everyday lives and safety. In the wake of a string of accidents, including the drop of an aircraft window onto a schoolyard, the U.S. military promised to avoid conducting flights over schools as much as possible. It, however, broke the promise and flew military helicopters over the elementary school near the U.S. Futenma base. How dare the U.S. forces call themselves “good neighbors”.

In Nago City, the official campaigning for the mayoral election will begin in a week. The construction of a new U.S. base in the Henoko district will be the key issue in the election. In order to put an end to the terrible situation in Okinawa and open a bright future for the prefecture, the victory of the anti-base incumbent is vital.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa governor: new US base inhibits local economic growth [November 21, 2017]
> Return of US bases generates 32 times more direct economic benefits in Okinawa [February 23, 2015]
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