U.S. must define end of military presence

On June 23, Okinawa commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the end of the World War II Battle of Okinawa. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the memorial ceremony and gave an address in which he acknowledged that Okinawa’s base-hosting burden is very heavy, adding that he will make every effort to address this situation.

The U.S. returned about half the area of the Northern Training Area, aka Jungle Warfare Training Center, on the condition, appended post diem, that six landing and takeoff facilities for Ospreys must be built in the remaining half. The U.S. will return the Futenma base on condition that its replacement be built at Henoko. The U.S. will return some bases south of Kadena on condition that the base at Henoko is completed.

We have been told time and time again that the condition for Futenma’s return will be completion of its replacement at Henoko. But it turned out recently that Futenma won’t be returned unless another condition is also met: that is, the marines must be provided with the right to free use of a commercial airport with a 2,800-meter runway, the length of the runway at Futenma. Does the U.S. have a strong desire for Naha Airport, where a second runway is under construction off its coast?

Looking at this state of affairs, one cannot help but feel that Abe is simply carrying out what Washington wants him to do, making these “returns” appear to be the fruit of his efforts.

Britain returned sovereignty over Hong Kong unconditionally after its 99-year “lease” expired in 1997. Can the U.S. follow suit and return all of the bases in Okinawa in 2044 with no strings attached? Judging from what the U.S. military is doing, it’s apparent that they are maneuvering to retain the bases forever, with no end in sight for the U.S. occupation of Okinawa.

Abe is committing high treason by colluding with Washington to keep its military’s footprint on Okinawa for good.

YOSHIO SHIMOJI
NAHA, OKINAWA PREFECTURE

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.