Okinawa assembly chides U.S. on base relocation
By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 9, 2010
NAHA, Okinawa — Okinawa’s lawmakers Friday urged the United States to rethink plans to build a new Marine Corps air station on the island.
On the last day of its current session, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution calling on the U.S. and Japan to reconsider a recent decision to go forward with closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in urban Ginowan, and moving Marine air units to the island’s rural northeast shore.
Addressed to President Barack Obama, the leaders of the House and Senate, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, the resolution states that the plan — established in a 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement — “ignores the full will of the people of Okinawa, who wish to move the operations out of Okinawa.”
“The bilateral decision was made over the head of Okinawa without giving any consideration to the consensus of Okinawa,” the resolution states. “Such an act, grossly negligent of the spirit of democracy and disdainful of the people of Okinawa, is absolutely unacceptable.”
A similar letter was sent to Japanese officials.
It’s the second time this year the 48-member assembly unanimously passed a resolution against the relocation plan. It also addresses resolutions from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in June that expressed gratitude for Okinawa hosting U.S. bases, which cover a fifth of the island.
“Such acts provoked public outrage on Okinawa for their utter lack of understanding the suffering the Okinawan people have had for bearing the excessive burden of hosting (U.S.) military bases,” the resolution reads. “The ultimate wish of the Okinawan people is to make a peaceful and military base-free Okinawa.”
Opposition to the relocation plan was renewed last fall when former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama promised to move the base outside Okinawa. However, Hatoyama was forced to resign in June when he acknowledged there was no way to move the Marines off the island and agreed to go ahead with the basic 2006 agreement.