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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 16 - 22  > 3 base-hosting mayors express criticism of planned U.S. base realignment
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2007 May 16 - 22 [US FORCES]

3 base-hosting mayors express criticism of planned U.S. base realignment

May 18, 2007
The mayors of three cities hosting U.S. bases and an Air Self-Defense Force base that will be affected by the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan -- Chitose (Hokkaido), Iwakuni (Yamaguchi Pref.), and Ginowan (Okinawa Pref.) -- attended as witnesses a House of Representatives Security Committee meeting on May 17 and expressed their criticism of the realignment plan.

Mayor Ihara Katsusuke of Iwakuni City, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station where U.S. carrier-borne aircraft will relocate from the U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Station (Kanagawa Pref.), pointed out that in the plebiscite held in March 2006, 90 percent of the voters expressed opposition to the realignment plan.

Citing the government measure to cut subsidies for the construction of a new city hall in retaliation for the city’s opposition to the plan, Ihara stated, “The central government should refrain from causing uneasiness in residents by pushing ahead with its plan. I hope this nation will respect the will of the people.”

Ihara criticized a government bill to create a system that the government provides subsidies to municipalities in accordance with the implementation of the realignment plan, stating, “It is inappropriate for the central government to try to control local politics by providing or withholding subsidies.”

Mayor Iha Yoichi of Ginowan City, hosting the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, drew attention to the danger of the base at which U.S. helicopters repeatedly conduct circular flight training exercises over densely populated area even after 10 p.m., and stressed the need to remove the base.

Concerning the government plan to construct a new U.S. base in Nago City’s Henoko District using the relocation of the Futenma base function as pretext, Iha stated, “The sea of Henoko is the Okinawans’ treasure and 75 percent of Okinawans are calling for relocation of the U.S. base to outside Japan.”

Mayor Yamaguchi Kotaro of Chitose City which hosts the ASDF Chitose Base stated that although he decided in the end to accept the relocation of Kadena-based U.S. aircraft training exercises at the base, it indeed was a bitter decision.

Citing Chitose’s history that immediately after WWII, corruption of public morals broke out due to the occupation by U.S. forces, the mayor stated, “When the plan was first announced, I told the central government that we cannot accept it.” - Akahata, May 18, 2007
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