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POLITICS

Anti-base group in Okinawa seeks help from UN to reduce base-hosting burden

  • 2015-06-22 15:00:00
  • , Mainichi
  • Translation

(Mainichi: June 22, 2015 – p. 1)

 

 An anti-base group in Okinawa in April submitted to 47 member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) a letter that requests the human rights watchdog to urge the U.S. to reduce the prefecture’s excessive burden of hosting U.S. military bases.

 

 The “island council seeking to realize ‘petitions of Okinawa’ for the future” leads a local movement to oppose the relocation of the U.S. Futenma air base to Henoko, Nago.

 

 The group argues that the governments of Japan and the U.S. remain have not changed their policy on Futenma relocation despite the results of the gubernatorial and general elections held in 2014, in which local voters gave a mandate to candidates who oppose the plan. The group wants the UNHRC to discuss the base issue in Okinawa from the viewpoint of human rights violations to prevent the relocation of the Futenma facility to Henoko.

 

 Jun Shimabukuro, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus and deputy secretary-general of the group, met with representatives from seven member states of the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. Several of them displayed an interest in the issue, the group says.

 

 The heads of all 41 municipal offices in Okinawa in January 2013 submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a petition that calls for scrapping the relocation plan to Henoko and the deployment of Osprey transport aircraft in Okinawa.

 

 The group was launched in July 2014 to seek the implementation of the petition. It is co-chaired by local political and business leaders, including former Vice Governor of Okinawa Masanori Yoshimoto, and has a membership of about 2,000 legislators and citizens.

 

 The document submitted to the 47 members of the UNHRC argues that the U.S. “maintains its military interests on land that was illegally acquired during its rule of the prefecture from 1945 to 1972.” It calls the relocation plan to Henoko a “violation of Okinawa’s right of self-determination” and urges the U.N. body to approach the U.S.

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