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Luminaries’ statement slams Henoko base deal

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Twenty-nine international scholars, peace activists, writers, artists and a Nobel laureate have issued a formal statement condemning the decision to relocate the Futenma military base to Henoko in northern Okinawa Island and comparing opposition to the move with America’s civil rights movement.

Noted linguist and writer Noam Chomsky, Academy Award-winning filmmakers Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, author and journalist Naomi Klein, and U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk are among those calling for an international campaign to support Okinawans in their opposition to the new base.

They are joined by John Dower, a professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Herbert Bix, a professor emeritus of history and sociology at State University of New York at Binghamton; and Gavan McCormack, a professor emeritus at Australian National University; as well as other noted Japan scholars.

“Using the lure of economic development, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe has extracted approval from Governor (Hirokazu) Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port,” the group said in its statement issued Tuesday.

“Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture.

“Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have nonviolently pressed for the end to their military colonization. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.

“We support the people of Okinawa in their nonviolent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa,” the statement said.

Nakaima’s decision last month to approve a central government application for the landfill project at Henoko is widely seen as a quid pro quo for the promises by Abe’s administration of ¥346 billion in development assistance for Okinawa in fiscal 2014, and a further ¥300 billion annually for the prefecture until fiscal 2021.

  • phu

    Was that the entirety of their statement? If not, did they actually suggest alternatives or just demand that the base… go away? Is it their contention that that wouldn’t negatively impact Japan’s security situation at all?

    I think the civil rights movement comparison is a little ridiculous, but their other points seem valid to me. I just can’t take them seriously if all they’re doing is complaining without actually suggesting viable alternative, solutions, or at least constructive suggestions.

  • zer0_0zor0

    Neocon Abe offers the governor wads of yen (how much does that add up to in dollarinos?) so that he can continue to have a base stationed there for the US military to protect the Diaoyu/Senkakus from their rightful owners, the Chinese?

    Meanwhile, we delete Article 9 of the Constitution, heheheh. What were those Yanks thinking? TPP?

  • Joe

    What is their alternative? The answer seems to be to remove the US security blanket and take the course of “hope” regarding China’s growing military force projection capability and obvious expansionist outlook. Have any of these “scholars” ever been to Camp’s Schwab or Hansen to assess the area and what the impact will be? Of course not, they do not care one iota about Okinawa, it is an easy statement made mostly from within the safety of fortress America void of meaning.

  • Theodore Shaw

    As strange as it may seem for some to hear, the US military also supports the people of Okinawa in their nonviolent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The military personnel perform their duties to the best of their abilities on a day-to-day basis in and around Okinawa. While they would also like the situation and location to be different, they soldier on in a world which is highly uncertain. I don’t think the 29 luminaries are sufficiently attentive to the possible hazards in the region.

  • Duncan Graham

    We might be reminded that Gral. MacArthur himself considered the Art. 9 of Showa Constitution stating “belligerency of the nation-state will not be recognized and no armed forces will be maintained” to be a model for the rest of the world. History can sometimes sadly be regressive. It must be noted that Japan is 6th in world military expenditures after the P5 of the United Nations Security Council. Duncan

  • silphy

    No it’s not.

    • Starviking

      I spoke too soon…