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Gist of meeting between Amb. Hagerty, Okinawa governor on Nov. 13

Governor Takeshi Onaga: Okinawa’s land area is 0.6% of the total Japanese territory but over 70% of military facilities for the exclusive use of the U.S. forces are located here. This land was forcibly requisitioned by the U.S. military with bayonets and bulldozers. In addition to causing crime, accidents, environmental issues, noise, and other problems, the U.S. bases constitute the greatest obstacle to economic development in Okinawa.


Ambassador William Hagerty: I deeply appreciate the Okinawan people’s support for the U.S. forces in light of North Korea’s threat and the tense regional situation. Their hosting of the bases supports the security and peace of mind not only of Japan, but also of Southeast Asia as a whole.


Onaga: Oura Bay, where the new military base in Henoko is being constructed, is the habitat of 262 endangered species and 5,800 living organisms. Why after 72 years are there bases in Okinawa and why is a military base being built by reclaiming the beautiful sea? I feel that this is discrimination.


Hagerty: I understand your concern. We would like to cooperate with the Japanese government and Okinawa in making efforts to reduce the impact of the presence of the U.S. forces.


Onaga: Okinawa’s tourism will be ruined if Henoko is reclaimed and some 100 Ospreys are flying here. This is an economic issue as well as an environmental issue. Deep in their hearts, the Okinawan people want to be spared for the sake of their human rights and community development. Okinawans are united as one in the face of this phenomenon of ignoring and trampling on the popular will, as expressed in elections, to build the new base. They are working very hard to absolutely prevent the military base from being built. This new military base in Henoko is a litmus test of democracy in Japan and the U.S.


Hagerty: It is truly eye-opening to learn about the feelings of the Okinawan people. The American people and the U.S. forces are deeply grateful for their warm feelings for us.


Onaga: An Osprey crashed last December, and a CH-53E helicopter burst into flames during an emergency landing in October. The Japan-U.S. security arrangements are built on a house of cards called Okinawa. If an aircraft crashes in a residential area, taking the lives of many people, the Japan-U.S. security system will no longer be tenable in Okinawa.


Hagerty: Safety is the top priority of U.S. Forces Japan. I will be visiting the U.S. bases tomorrow. Along with maintaining a rapid response capability, safety will be the top priority under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Nicholson.



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