Two citizens’ groups issued separate statements in Tokyo on Apr. 1 calling on the government not to seek a legal revision that would enable the government to continue the forced use of land in Okinawa Prefecture for the U.S. military after land lease contracts expire in May.
One of the two groups, consisting of about 140 people, said any such revision would constitute discrimination against Okinawa. Masatoshi Uchida, a lawyer and member of the group, said the planned revision would violate the Constitution, which says the right to own property is inviolable. People should not remain silent over such antidemocratic legislation by the authorities, said Yayori Matsui, a journalist.
A great majority of the landowners are opposed to the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Many of them live outside the island prefecture. Seishin Uehara, one of the antibase landowners and a member of the group, said Japanese people living outside Okinawa should support Okinawan residents to prevent the prefecture from being turned into the U.S. military’s land forever.
Another citizens’ group, consisting mainly of women, obtained support from about 600 individuals for their statement strongly opposing the revision. Keiko Tsuwa, the leader of the group that was formed after the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl in Okinawa by three U.S. servicemen, said a revision would result in Okinawa hosting the U.S. military forever and should be prevented at any cost.