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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 7 - 13  > Realignment agreement allows U.S. forces in Okinawa to do anything they want
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2007 March 7 - 13 TOP3 [US FORCES]
editorial 

Realignment agreement allows U.S. forces in Okinawa to do anything they want

March 10, 2007
The Japanese government claims that the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan will reduce Okinawans’ base burdens, but this is nothing but a big sham as proved by actual actions of the U.S. forces.

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Japanese government claims that the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan will reduce Okinawans’ base burdens, but this is nothing but a big sham as proved by actual actions of the U.S. forces.

To give an example, the U.S. forces conducted parachute-drop training exercises in January and February at Kadena Air Base, Tsukenjima, and Camp Schwab in violation of the Japan-U.S. agreement.

Dropping troops and equipment at target points, the exercises are dangerous because some equipment may be blown by the wind and land in civilian areas. In fact, a dangler fell and killed an elemental school pupil in the past. In the wake of this accident, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided to conduct such exercises only at Iejima Auxiliary Airfield in the 1996 Japan-U.S. agreement on Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO).

The Japanese government attitude is also unacceptable. In reply to Japanese Communist Party House of Representatives member Akamine Seiken, the government defended the U.S. forces, saying, “Parachute-drop training exercises are urgently needed and unavoidable.” U.S. forces violated the Japan-U.S. agreement, but the Japanese government is unwilling to lodge a protest. Such an attitude of the government only helps increase public distrust.

It is grave that the U.S. forces even conducted exercises in which U.S. personnel pointed machine guns toward civilian residents. After landing at Katabaru Beach in Ginoza Village, a U.S. marine unit conducted drills pointing their machine guns toward vehicles on a public road when they crossed the road on the way to U.S. Camp Hansen.

Despite the fact that conducting exercises outside the U.S. military bases violates the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the Japanese government only ostensibly lodged a protest by stating, “Such exercises would cause unnecessary anxieties among local residents” (Foreign Minister Aso Taro).

In the background of these incidents, the Japan-U.S. agreement on the U.S. military realignment actually encourages the U.S. forces to do anything they want. The United States undoubtedly assumes that the Japanese government will never impose restrictions on the U.S. forces because it regards them as “vitally important.”

The Japanese government must stop implementing the U.S. military realignment at the expense of Okinawans.
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