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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Okinawans Continue to Resist in Takae

John Feffer reports on the disappointing survival of the costly, accident-prone V-22 Osprey in the latest round of Washington budget cuts. Lobbyists for the long-criticized aircraft (called a "turkey" by Dick Cheney) won their fight for profit against advocates of sound government spending. Feffer comments on the American subsidization of the forced construction of unwanted U.S. helipads in Okinawa, where environmentalists and local democratic activists are engaged in a daily nonviolent struggle with military construction workers: "It's bad enough that U.S. taxpayers have to continue to support the care and feeding of this particular Osprey. Worse, we're inflicting the bird on others."

Dennis Kucinich & Ron Paul say the U.S. can’t afford a new base in Okinawa

Last week, Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul said the U.S. can't afford a new Marine base in Okinawa. Paul dismissed the view that U.S. forces in Japan serve as deterrence, calling this an ‘‘excuse’’ to maintain a U.S. military bases there. Similarly Kucinich questioned the need to continue focusing on Cold War-era threats, saying U.S. bases in Japan are ‘‘part of a bygone era" and ‘‘China’s interested in making money, not war.’’

Network for Okinawa Statement/Press Release on Forced Military Construction in Yanbaru Forest & Henoko, Okinawa

The Network for Okinawa, following calls of protest from international peace, democracy, and environmental organizations, has issued a statement/press release on forced U.S. military construction in biologically rich and fragile Yanbaru Forest, Oura Bay, and Henoko, Okinawa.

Former PM Hatoyama says “deterrence” was an excuse

Former Prime Minister Hatoyama says "deterrence" was an arbitrary excuse for breaking his word to the citizens of Okinawa after his failure to find a site for the U.S. Marine Futenma Air Station other than Henoko, a biodiverse coastal area that is the habitat of the critically endangered Okinawan dugong and other rare species. The once highly popular Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader criticized Japan's Foreign and Defense ministries, explaining they were unresponsive to democratic process in Okinawa.

Okinawa Governor Nakaima & Mayors Hand U.S. Military Base Closure/No New Base Construction Request to Japanese PM Kan

On Feb. 8, Governor Nakaima and a group of Okinawan mayors handed a request to Naoto Kan, asking the Japanese prime minister to move the US Marine Air Station Futenma off the island and to cancel the plan for a new "replacement" mega-base in Henoko, an environmentally sensitive area on the island. The mayors included Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Mayor Takeshi Asato of Ginowan City, and 9 other mayors from base-hosting communities. Their request, the first formal request of 2011, follows a 15-year sit-in protest at Henoko; a 3-year protest at Takae in Yanbaru Forest; and numerous statements, plebiscites, resolutions, elections, and annual mass protest rallies across Okinawa — all demanding the closure of Futenma and the cancellation of the proposal of a new U.S. base at Henoko.

Takae in Crisis

Despite statements by the U.S. and Japanese governments that military construction would not proceed without local approval, the Japanese Defense Ministry's Okinawan Headquarters (the Okinawan Defense Ministry) forcibly started construction work on helipads in Okinawa at the end of last year. These new helipads, where the U.S. wants to train Marines in the use of heavier, noisier, and dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft, would (if built) endanger the lives of local residents and irreparably destroy the pristine and biologically rich Yanbaru Forest in northern Okinawa. On Feb. 1, several dump trucks and 50-60 workers threw bags of gravel over the fence at multiple entry points of the U.S. Marine Northern Training Area (a jungle warfare training ground used to test napalm during the U.S. war in Vietnam). However, the Okinawan Citizens Defense Force (a pro-democracy and peace group) is engaging in nonviolent means to obstruct unapproved military construction. Multi-car Okinawan brigades are blocking entrances to construction sites.