• Naha City, Okinawa

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The relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is not the only base issue that Okinawans are agonizing over. The village of Takae, northern Okinawa, faces a problem of its own. In return for an unused portion of the U.S. Marine Corps Northern Training Area, Tokyo agreed with Washington to construct six helipads (each 75 meters in diameter) for the marines’ V-22 Ospreys in lush forests around the village.

Apparently the helipads are connected with the planned relocation of Futenma to reclaimed land at Henoko, also in northern Okinawa. Noise pollution from Ospreys is said to be beyond human tolerance, as exemplified by the Jan. 27 protest against Osprey maneuvers by the citizens of Brewton, Alabama.

Takae sits amid lush forests. Imagine the harm to this landscape if construction work starts. The training and the noise associated with Ospreys would certainly destroy the peaceful environment not only for Takae villagers but also for species of wildlife, some of which are already listed as endangered. They are indigenous to this mountainous region (aka Yanbaru).

According to a Feb. 12 Japan Times article, Sen. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii Democrat) again pressed Tokyo to expedite the 2006 bilateral agreement for an early relocation of Futenma, saying “the U.S. side cannot wait indefinitely.” He may not know it, but the marines or the U.S. Navy sought budgetary approval of a Futenma relocation blueprint every year during the 1960s, but never got it because of Vietnam War expenditures. So, how dare he say “the U.S. side cannot wait indefinitely”?

The Futenma relocation plan must be scrapped and Futenma relocated outside of Okinawa unconditionally. The same goes for the helipad construction plan.

yoshio shimoji

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