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Combat training range continues to stir anger across Okinawa communities

Date Posted: 2005-07-29

Pressures and anger at the military’s new urban combat range are intensifying, with more local cities, towns and villages taking anti-military stances.

The new facility at Camp Hansen’s Range 4 is becoming a lightning rod for anti-base opposition on the island. Protests in front of Camp Hansen are becoming almost commonplace.

Kin and Igei District citizens are angry at the very idea of the base, and more so this week in the wake of comments from Foreign Minister Machimura that there’d been “no accidents since 1988.” That proved wrong, as the correct date of the last incident was 1998. Kin Town’s mayor, Tsuyoshi Gibu, is also involved in the protests, and is also appealing directly to Tokyo for help.

Kitanakagusuku Village assembly has met in special session to draft a protest resolution demanding the facility be closed and the Status of Forces Agreement be updated.

The Director General of Defense Facilities Administration Agency spoke out in support of the facility, telling detractors “I assure everyone there is complete safety at the range.”

Okinawa’s Governor, Keiichi Inamine, is angry as well. Using the National Security Forum as a backdrop, he blasted the military for the ‘dangerous facility’ and said “a three-story military range only 200 meters from the Okinawa Expressway is frightening. Anyone looking can see that.” He’s openingly questioning the Status of Forces Agreement that allows the U.S. to operate without consultation with Japanese authorities.

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