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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 August 22 - 28  > Halt environmental assessment for new U.S. base construction in Okinawa
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2007 August 22 - 28 [US FORCES]

Halt environmental assessment for new U.S. base construction in Okinawa

August 23, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Defense Ministry’s recent move to forcibly conduct an environmental impact assessment in order to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa’s Nago City has sparked Okinawans’ outrage.

Opinion polls show that 70 percent of Okinawans are opposed to the construction of the U.S. base, and even the governments of Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City disagree with the current construction plan. In this situation, the central government must refrain from pushing ahead with the construction.

However, the Defense Ministry high-handedly submitted the documents showing the methods of an environmental assessment for the construction of the U.S. Marine Corps air base to the prefectural government and started its exhibition to the public.

The government has repeatedly promised that it will make efforts to gain the understanding of local governments regarding the construction plans. The fact that the Defense Ministry initiated the environmental assessment, reneging on this promise, shed light on the Abe government arrogant policy to forcibly construct the U.S. base.

Furthermore, the assessment documents contain numerous problems.

The new base’s level of noise pollution may differ depending on the type of aircraft that will use the base. However, the documents failed to disclose whether U.S. Marine Corps F-18 fighter jets will use the base. They also failed to refer to the Osprey, a large tilt rotor transport aircraft which has often crashed, despite the fact that Osprey will certainly be deployed to Okinawa. The documents only refer to rotorcraft and types of aircraft that need only short runways, apparently in order to hide the true intentions.

What’s worse, they failed to show the flight paths around the base. It is crucial for an environmental assessment to take into account how those aircraft will fly over residential areas. However, not only the U.S. but also then Defense Minister Kyuma Fumio in the Diet last year stated, “U.S. aircraft may land at the base from any direction.”

Obviously, the assessment documents themselves were produced to deceive the public. We cannot allow the government to press ahead with the construction in such a manner.

Based on the bitter experiences in the Battle of Okinawa during WWII, Okinawans are demanding a peaceful Okinawa free from military bases. It is fundamentally wrong to force another U.S. base on them.

Okinawans’ struggle against the construction of the base is a just struggle in conformity with the Constitution that declares the renunciation of wars and guarantees the right of the people to live in peace. - Akahata, August 23, 2007
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