When U.S. President Bill Clinton came to Okinawa in 2000 for a summit, he delivered a speech at Okinawa’s war memorial park in which he promised to reduce the U.S. military’s excessive footprint. Almost nine years have elapsed since then, but we have seen no tangible reduction of U.S. base area.
Washington did announce the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, but there was a catch: Washington said the base facilities should be relocated anew to a sparsely populated northern Okinawa, to the Henoko area, where they could be functionally integrated with Camp Hansen, Camp Schwab, and the marines’ central and northern training areas.
We all know that the marines have had a blueprint for Futenma’s relocation to Henoko since before Okinawa’s reversion to Japan (1972) because the present air station is located in a densely populated residential area.
Does the relocation of one of many bases to another location on the same island reduce the burdens on the local people? Imagine if innocent citizens asked a crime syndicate to relocate its office outside the area and the crime syndicate then demanded a quid pro quo. Would the local citizens be relieved?
Remember, more than 70 percent of Okinawa residents have been against the Henoko relocation plan from the very beginning. Yet Tokyo and Washington have negotiated without paying this sentiment any mind. Futenma should be moved to U.S. soil.
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