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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 20 - 26  > Allow Yokosuka City residents to express opinion on homeporting of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
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2008 February 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

Allow Yokosuka City residents to express opinion on homeporting of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

February 19, 2008
Akahata, editorial (excerpts)

A campaign is now underway for the second time to collect signatures of residents to demand that the Yokosuka City Assembly enact an ordinance to hold a referendum on the planned deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base.

In February 2007, the city assembly rejected a similar petition calling for such a referendum to take place despite the fact about 40,000 residents put their signatures in support of the petition, nearly six times more than the legally required minimum number of signatures. A citizen group leading this campaign plans to collect at least 60,000 signatures this time in order to force the assembly to enact the ordinance.

The deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Yokosuka will pose a risk of nuclear accidents to the 30 million residents living in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, particularly Yokosuka City residents, and pave the way for allowing U.S. nuclear-powered warships to regularly visit Japanese ports. In order to block the deployment, this campaign must succeed.

Referendum must be held

The U.S. government has announced that next August it will deploy the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington (97,000 tons) to the Yokosuka Base. Although the Japanese and U.S. governments propagate the myth that nuclear-powered warships are safe, such warships have actually been involved in accidents. The USS Nimitz and USS Stennis, the same class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers as the George Washington, have had serious accidents, including leaks of the primary cooling water and emergency shutdowns of their reactors.

Moreover, the deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will turn Yokosuka Port into a U.S. stronghold able to attack anywhere in the world. It is a matter of course for war-denouncing Yokosuka residents to oppose the deployment plan.

The Japanese government and the Yokosuka mayor have the responsibility to protect citizens from the threats of nuclear accidents. They, nonetheless, decided to accept the deployment of the nuclear-powered warship in total disregard of the residents’ opinions.

The city residents have a constitutional right to decide through a referendum whether to accept the deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and the mayor and the city assembly are obliged to guarantee this right.

The latest signature campaign is highly significant. In order for the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to replace the conventional aircraft-carrier Kitty Hawk and use the 12th berth of Yokohama Port, the Harbor Law requires the Yokosuka City mayor and the central government to hold a consultation prior to the deployment scheduled for August 19. To show residents’ determined opposition to the deployment in a referendum can be a decisive factor to overturn the decision to accept it.

A-bombed nation’s only choice

The U.S. government has repeatedly sent nuclear-powered warships to Japan since 1964 in order to weaken the so-called “nuclear allergy” of the Japanese people. The planned deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier could open the way for Japan to eventually accept the homeporting of U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons.

As the only nation in the world to have experienced the horror of nuclear weapons used in war, the Japanese people must refuse to accept nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered warships.

The campaign for the establishment of an ordinance to hold a referendum in Yokosuka has national significance. Support from other parts of Japan is called for to get the ordinance enacted.
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