CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Okinawa Guntenkyo, a council of local municipalities that host U.S. military bases, passed a resolution Monday to condemn construction of an urban warfare training complex on Camp Hansen.
The council also supported Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha’s call for closing Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, but refused to include his demand the base be closed within five years, whether or not an alternate site is found for Marine air operations.
In another move, the council resolved to press Japanese officials for details of ongoing talks between Japan and the United States to realign U.S. forces in Japan, amid Japanese press reports that the discussions include transferring more than 3,000 Marines to mainland Japan.
The annual meeting of the group, consisting of the mayors of 31 towns and cities adjacent to the bases and chaired by Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine, passed 13 resolutions concerning the bases. It submits the requests to the Japanese and U.S. governments.
The requests are addressed to the prime minister, minister of Foreign Affairs, minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territory Affairs, director general of the Defense Agency, director general of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, director of Defense Facilities Administration Naha Bureau, U.S. ambassador to Japan, U.S. consulate general on Okinawa, commander of U.S. Forces Japan and the Okinawa coordinator of the USFJ.
The council was formed in 1977 to discuss ways to promote and reutilize reverted military property, but in recent years it has been more vocal in supporting anti-base issues. Among the resolutions passed Monday was a call to mandate that all persons in Japan under the status of forces agreement be required to obtain parking certificates for private vehicles, whether or not they live on a military base.
After pressure by Okinawa politicians, Japan recently decided to mandate the purchase of the parking certificates for all Americans living outside the bases.
The council rejected proposed resolutions that sponsors said would boost Okinawa’s flagging economy. Requests that the U.S. military give priority to Okinawa-based businesses for base contracts and to promote the sale of Okinawa products on the bases were rejected by the group.
A participant said the requests were not appropriate because the council exists to “settle U.S. military-related problems.”
In a related matter, representatives of the Kin community next to Camp Hansen visited Gov. Inamine Tuesday to seek his support in opposing construction of the urban warfare training complex. Inamine promised to study the matter and send members of his staff to a watchtower protesters have erected just outside the base’s fence line to observe the construction site.
— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.