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Governor invokes WWII on Futenma argument

Date Posted: 2011-09-30

Okinawa’s governor bitterly talked of American plans to relocate a controversial air base on his prefecture’s main island by ”bayonets and bulldozers”, describing how Futenma Marine Corps Air Station was originally built following the Battle of Okinawa.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima was speaking out in Washington D.C., where he gave a lecture on the Futenma relocation issue and how bayonets and bullets were used by U.S. troops following the Spring 1945 Okinawa invasion that ultimately set the stage for ending World War II. Nakaima says the American push to move the base from heavily populated Ginowan City to a northern town that’s only lightly populated, is being pressed upon Okinawa Prefecture is “to be done by bayonets and bulldozers”.

The governor, speaking both at George Washington University and at a press conference, called for relocating Futenma outside his Okinawa Prefecture. He said a relocation within Okinawa would “take a very long time” and isn’t being received well by residents. Nakaima complained about Kadena Air Base, and the noise pollution already generated by the sprawling American air installation since World War II.

Nakaima has support from three U.S. senators, all members of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee. Senators Carl Levin, D-Michigan, John McCain, R-Arizona, and Jim Webb, D-Virginia, have all told Nakaima they understand the problem and concur that noise reduction measures must be included in whatever integration efforts approved for Okinawa.

The governor says he’s made no deals with American or Japanese officials on any linkage between moving troops from Okinawa to Guam, or returning six current U.S. military facilities on the main island, to his support for a Futenma relocation. “There is no logic to that,” he says. “The U.S. should simply return such facilities soon, as they are no longer necessary”, he noted during his first trip to the U.S. to argue against the Japan-U.S. agreement on the military realignment package.

Nakaima’s explained that roughly 74% of the American military facilities in Japan are on Okinawa, and compared the situation to “having such military facilities right in the center of New York City.” He told American lawmakers “there is no need to link the relocation of Futenma Air Station and the return of other U.s. military bases. The two governments should stop doing deals and return the bases promptly.”

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