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Ginowan tells U.S. to ‘get helos out now!’

Date Posted: 2005-12-08

The anti-American mayor of Ginowan City ratcheted up the anti-American rhetoric on the ninth anniversary of the plan to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

Mayor Yoichi unveiled a 42-meter-long anti-American message painted on the roof of city hall this week, telling Americans “Don’t fly over our city. U.S. helos out now!” It was nine years ago this week the Special Action Committee on Okinawa decided to create a new airfield at a new location, then shutting down the Futenma site. Futenma is surrounded by the 150,000 residents of Ginowan.

Iha again reiterated his demand that the U.S. suspend flights over residential areas, which surround the airbase. He also continues to insist the airbase be moved completely outside Okinawa before 2008.

A plan unveiled in October would move Futenma to the northern end of the island within the next few years, but Iha is opposed to that concept as well. He says it will become trapped in a quagmire just like earlier plans because there’s little difference between this 2005 document and one written nine years ago. The government in 1999 decided to build a new airfield at Henoko, but that project has fallen victim to environmental, economic and political considerations.

Ginowan has long been an activist anti-American hotbed, with protesters continuing to speak out about a rape incident ten years ago, as well as the crash of a helicopter more than one year ago. The Sea Stallion chopper crash in August 2004, onto the Okinawa International University, injured only the three U.S. Marines aboard, but caused an uproar in the community.

One Ginowan City official this week said “It is important to show that Okinawa does not welcome any American bases. The mayor says the rooftop message, all 136 feet of it, will remain until the base is closed.

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