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U.S. envoy to Japan faces criticism over Okinawa base remarks

Kyodo

A group of 70 Americans, including noted filmmaker Oliver Stone, on Tuesday criticized U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy for her backing of a contentious U.S.-Japan plan to relocate a Marine Corps base within Okinawa.

The U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma “must be closed, but moving it to Henoko isn’t the solution,” the group said in a statement referring to the bilaterally agreed but locally opposed relocation site, adding, “It merely shifts the problem to a less conspicuous location.”

Kennedy told the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo last week that the plan to move the main function of the Futenma airfield from a densely populated urban area in Ginowan to a new facility in the Henoko coastal area of Nago, both in Okinawa, is “the best of any other plans that were considered.”

Her statement is “a threat, an insult and a challenge for the vast majority of Okinawans who are vehemently opposed to the (relocation) plan,” the group said.

The group urged Kennedy to reread a speech her father, John F. Kennedy, delivered in 1963 at American University in which he rejected a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”

The 70 signers of the latest statement include scholars, peace advocates, journalists and a former senator.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, elected to oppose the plan to relocate the Futenma base within his prefecture, has lately been involved in a court battle with the government over his attempts to block the ongoing preparatory work to construct a replacement airfield in the sea.

The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to the relocation plan as a way to reduce the burden on Okinawa, which already hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, while maintaining a security deterrence in the region.

  • Liars N. Fools

    A contest between an ultra-liberal film director and a nice enough lady who mostly mouths what she is told to. Although I disagree with what she is made to say, I am on her side.

  • JimmyJM

    With Oliver Stone in this group, their utterances can be ignored – which is a disservice to the Okinawan people.

  • James

    When will the imperialists learn that they are not at all needed in Okinawa? Go back home.

  • najania

    Strongly agree. Was very sad to see Ambassador Kennedy appear in what was obviously a carefully timed political show staged by the Abe administration.

  • Paul Martin

    Well free speech and expression is what Americ’a all about and something that other regimes and countries can’t comprehend. Keneny doesn’t have any power over what happens in Okinawa but as Ambassador from a country that protects all of east asia she does have the right to he opinions !

  • Riquez

    It is very unfair that US government seem to think it is their right to cover this tiny island with bases & concrete over coral reef. Can you imagine the outcry if some other country wanted to concrete over some beautiful california coastline to build a base? But it doesn’t matter here because old okinawan people can be pushed around easily by the Japanese & US military as they have been for a long time.

    Why dont they build a base on Senkaku island, that is not far away & uninhabited, it is strategically even better. oh, but the Chinese might not like it & they can fight back.

  • Scotusduns. Duns

    Caroline is doing a disservice to her father and the US by dismissing the claim of the Okinawan government. The “no other option” effectively means that no other Japanese prefectural government will accept the base. Only Okinawawa can be forced because of its minority status. Caroline should be ashamed.
    The mission statement of the Marines in Okinawa clearly states that it is jungle training, not defense of Japan. But jungle training could be carried out in Guam or US bases. Though the Marines’ jungle training’s usefulness in the fight against ISIS is surely in need of question.
    Why are valuable Marine assets being wasted in Okinawa when the threat is from the Mideast?
    How can Japan be defended with more than 50 percent of US forces concentrated in a small island far distant from Japan proper? We tried that at Pearl Harbor. Is Okinawa a deliberate target for our enemies ?