WASHINGTON – The U.S. military was planning between 1945 to 1946 to use all of Okinawa Island as a permanent site for its bases, declassified U.S. documents have shown.
The documents are the latest evidence to apparently reinforce the background of the current bases’ location.
The Okinawa community has been trying to consolidate and reduce the U.S. bases in the prefecture, which has long hosted about 75 percent of all U.S. military facilities in Japan in terms of land area.
The documents contained two charts showing a map of Okinawa Island with proposed major U.S. military installations, excluding U.S. Marine Corps bases that were transferred to Okinawa in the 1950s. Some of the bases still exist.
The documents were recently discovered at the U.S. National Archives by Hirofumi Hayashi, a contemporary history professor at Kanto Gakuin University.
Hayashi said the documents, and charts, serve as the prototypes of the current U.S. bases.
The charts, one created by the U.S. Navy in November 1945 and the other by the U.S. Army in October 1946, both measured about 1 meter long and 60 meters wide.
The U.S. Army’s chart carried the wording “Post War Planning Permbase Project Locations Site Plan” and “Confidential” in bold letters.
The western area of the island was administered by the U.S. Army and the eastern area by the navy.
Currently, U.S. military installations make up a large chunk of central Okinawa Island. The bases include U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the U.S. Air Force Kadena base.
The U.S. military formally decided to take control of the bases in Okinawa in 1949, and, according to the declassified documents, began the forceful acquisition of land under a “bayonets and bulldozers” campaign to build bases starting in 1953, after the Korean War.
More bases were built after the marines were transferred to Okinawa amid vigorous protests across Japan in the 1950s against the U.S. military presence.