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POLITICS

Analysis: Early return of land will not lead to lightening Okinawa’s burden

  • 2015-12-07 15:00:00
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(Akahata: December 5, 2015 – p. 2)

 

 The joint press release by the governments of Japan and the U.S. will not lead to a reduction of the base-hosting burden on Okinawa. It is an agreement full of deceptions.

 

 The consolidation plan, which agreed upon in April 2013, calls for construction of a new base in Henoko and relocation of bases within Okinawa or to Guam as prerequisites. Even if it is completed, the land area occupied by U.S. forces in Okinawa will be cut by a paltry 0.7 points to 73.1% from the current 73.8% of their total presence in Japan.

 

 The plan does not specify a completion date for the consolidation. A specific timeline was not set in the recent announcement, either.

 

 The Futenma airfield is about 481 hectares in area. The return of 4 hectares constitutes less than 1% of the total area of the base. The announcement merely brought to the fore a deal that has been mothballed since it was agreed upon at the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee in 1990. Private houses have already been built along the road located on the Futenma land that will be returned [to Okinawa]. That road has been already been functioning as a civilian road for quite some time.

 

 The initial agreement on the return of the Industrial Corridor of Camp Zukeiran was reached in 1976 at the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee. The joint press release calls for building an elevated road above portions of the camp, which suggests the U.S. will continue to use the area as a base.

 

 Though former Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima failed to fulfill his campaign commitments, he called for the full return of the Makiminato Service Area within seven years from 2013. The existing timeline for its return is set at “fiscal 2015 or a later date.” This remains unchanged in the joint press release.

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