Okinawa activists establish fund to fight Futenma base move


Staff Writer

Money matters in politics. This is something Okinawans locking horns with the central government over the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma seem to have cottoned on to, setting up a private-sector fund to promote their anti-base cause.

Local business executives and former political leaders on Thursday announced the creation of a “Henoko Fund” to solicit donations from the public. They plan to use it to fund opinion ads in newspapers in Japan and the U.S. to present their case against moving the air base from a residential neighborhood in Ginowan to the coastal district of Henoko in Nago, northern Okinawa.

“It’s important to convey our message directly and indirectly to the U.S. government and the American people,” fund backer Morimasa Goya, chairman of the Naha-based construction and retail company Kanehide Group, said at a news conference in Naha.

The other campaigners behind the project are Chokei Taira, CEO of hotel chain Kariyushi Group; Tokumatsu Nagahama, CEO of food supplier Okiham; former Kadena Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi; Fumiko Sugawara, the widow of late actor Bunta Sugawara; and former Foreign Ministry official Masaru Sato.

Sugawara has embraced a cause that was dear to her husband, a visible campaigner against the base’s relocation. He appeared at a rally attended by 10,000 people in Okinawa last November, less than a month before his death from cancer, said Hiromu Nakayama, an official at Kanehide, which is temporarily serving as the fund’s secretariat.

Nakayama added that candidates for director and secretary-general of the fund, as well as its future plans, will be discussed next week.

Thursday’s news conference was attended by about 30 people, including Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who was elected in November on a platform to move the base out of the prefecture.

“We would like to join forces with many people in Okinawa,” Onaga said.

Information from Kyodo added

  • JimmyJM

    I can understand the desire of some Okinawans to have the U.S bases removed though they should consider several factors including the number of people who would suddenly become unemployed and the loss to the local economy with the closure of the bases. But no party should interfere with the removal of the base in Futenma. Any accident from an aircraft there could cause significant casualties. The parties (including the Governor) currently trying to stop the relocation of Futenma are serving their own narrow interests and not those of the people.

    • jwtn

      The us military is actually holding the okinawan economy down and preventing economic development. the us military makes up less than 4% of the economy today. Most of the good jobs and money don’t go to okinawans, it goes to americans and japanese. its time for the marines to leave, they should have left along time ago.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Unfortunately the entire public relations budgets of the Japanese and American governments are deployed to spread the propaganda that Futenma has to be replaced, and the sole replacement site is Henoko.

    The former is true. Futenma is a disaster waiting to happen. The latter is dubious. There are lots of sites in the main islands of Japan that can absorb the facilities in Futenma. It is just that no place will want to house Marines, Ill disciplined and oversexed, and no NIMBYism means the continuing sacrifice of Okinawans so that “real” Japanese will not be polluted by having to deal with Marines.