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Okinawa governor says people's human rights neglected in US base saga

By MASAAKI KAMEDA | Japan Times, Tokyo | Published: September 25, 2015

TOKYO (Tribune News Service) — Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga doubled down Thursday on his pledge to halt construction of a new U.S. military base in his prefecture, claiming people’s human rights were being neglected by Tokyo and Washington.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), Onaga said construction of a new base was progressing under a Japan-U.S. security alliance that had no truck with the freedom, equality, human rights and democracy of the Okinawa public.

“I wanted people in the world to sound an alarm,” Onaga said, referring to his speech on the issue at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Onaga is opposed to the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the crowded city of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko district in the city of Nago.

“As the local government administration, we are determined to take legal steps in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws to revoke” permission to build the base in the Henoko coastal area, Onaga stressed.

The central government resumed land reclamation work to relocate the base to the Henoko area on Sept. 12 after a monthlong suspension to hold intensive talks with the prefecture, which failed to resolve the standoff.

Onaga announced Sept. 14 that he will take steps to revoke a permission that his predecessor, Hirokazu Nakaima, gave to the central government for landfill work necessary for the relocation.

During the FCCJ news conference, Onaga stressed that the burden of hosting U.S. bases should be shouldered by the entire nation while noting that Okinawa, representing 0.6 percent of the Japan’s land mass, hosts 73.8 percent of the U.S. military bases in the country.

He also said the land reclamation was unacceptable in environmental terms, and that the Japanese government was trying to fill in the sea, which contained such marine biodiversity as coral reefs and dugongs.

In his speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Onaga said U.S. military bases had caused numerous accidents and environmental problems in the prefecture.

“Our right to self-determination and human rights have been neglected,” Onaga told the council. “Can a country serve values such as freedom, equality, human rights and democracy with other nations when that country cannot guarantee those values for its own people?”

©2015 the Japan Times (Tokyo)
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Gov. Takeshi Onaga of Okinawa Prefecture meets with reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 3, 2015.
JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES

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