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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 May 15 - 21  > Tokyo designates many Okinawan lands near US bases as ‘special’ areas which restrict local residents’ rights
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2024 May 15 - 21 [POLITICS]

Tokyo designates many Okinawan lands near US bases as ‘special’ areas which restrict local residents’ rights

May 16, 2024

The Kishida government on May 15 announced an additional designation of 31 locations in the southern part of Okinawa as “monitored areas” or “special monitored areas” in line with the land-use restriction law. With this announcement, the number of designated locations in Okinawa increased to 70, the largest among 47 prefectures.

May 15 marked the 52nd anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan. The central government’s announcement on this day has drawn mounting criticism that such an act tramples on Okinawans’ hope for realizing a peaceful Okinawa without military bases under the pacifist Constitution.

The Act on the Review and Regulation of the Use of Real Estate Surrounding Important Facilities and on Remote Territorial Islands allows the state authorities to designate areas within a 1-kilometer radius from “important facilities”, such as U.S. military bases, Self-Defense Forces bases, and nuclear power plants, as “monitored areas” and “special monitored areas”. The law also allows the national government to surveil owners of designated land and collect their personal information. In “special monitored areas”, a transaction of real estate without prior notification to authorities will be punishable by law.

The newly-designated 31 locations included areas in the vicinity of the Ground SDF Camp Naha, the Air SDF Naha Air Base, the U.S. Kadena Air Base, the U.S. Futenma Base, U.S. Camp Schwab, and the U.S. Navy’s White Beach facility.

In Kadena and Chatan towns, which host the U.S. Kadena Base, almost all parts of the towns will be specified as “special monitored areas”. In Ginowan City, where the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station is located in the center of the city, most parts will be declared to be “monitored/special monitored areas”. In Okinawa’s capital city of Naha, “special monitored areas” will cover densely residential zones.

Lawyer Kato Yutaka, member of a lawyers’ group opposing the land-use restriction law, said, “Tokyo carried out the additional designation on Okinawa’s reversion day. This indicates that the central government has no understanding of the fact that since the war ended, many military bases have been concentrated in Okinawa and that heavy base burdens have been imposed on Okinawa. It is certain that the national government intends to force Okinawa to serve as a ‘breakwater’ for national defense.”

Past related article:
> Law trampling on residents’ constitutional rights should be abolished [April 3, 2024]
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