• Naha, Okinawa

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On Sept. 7 the Noda Cabinet’s new Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba made an inaugural telephone call to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which he assured her that Japan would stick to the accord reached last year to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in northern Okinawa. Genba said at his inaugural news conference that he would do his best to persuade Okinawa residents to accept the bilateral accord.

How will he do that? By lavishly bribing Henoko (Nago City) residents into consenting? Or will Tokyo resort to police force, invoking state power and thus causing bloodshed and social turmoil. The meeting in New York on Sept. 21 between Japan’s new Prime Minister Toshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session, was the culmination of an array of such reassurances. Noda assured Obama that he would do his utmost to implement the 2006 accord between Tokyo and Washington.

There are more than 3,000 “military-land owners” of the Futenma site. This figure tells everything about its history. Futenma was constructed while area residents were herded into concentration camps during and after the Battle of Okinawa. Other U.S. bases in Okinawa, 33 in all, have more or less a similar history. In the 1950s, additional land was requisitioned at bayonet point and by bulldozer to expand already existing bases. The illegality and immorality of Futenma will not disappear even if it is moved to Henoko or anywhere else in Okinawa. Both Tokyo and Washington must realize this and search for an alternative solution — that is, to move it outside of Okinawa, preferably to the U.S. mainland.

Close Futenma immediately with no strings attached. That way, there will be no obligation to Japanese taxpayers, Okinawa residents in particular, to foot the bills for reclaiming pristine coastal waters off Henoko and for constructing a new, advanced base with additional port facilities for the U.S. Marines.

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.

yoshio shimoji

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