• Naha, Okinawa

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Under strong pressure from the U.S. government, an environmental impact assessment report was finally delivered to the Okinawa prefectural government on the presumption that work for relocating U.S. Marine Air Station Futenma from the more densely populated Ginowan to the Henoko area must start without a hitch.

Delivery of the documents was made last month through a tradesman’s entrance in the wee hours of the morning by clerical employees of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the Japan Ministry of Defense’s subsidiary office at Kadena.

This furtive action hints at the criminality of the relocation itself, as Satoshi Tanaka, the former Okinawa Defense Bureau chief, suggested in the remark that got him fired on Nov. 29: “Do you tell someone you’re going to rape her before you do it?”

Should Futenma’s relocation plan be implemented, it would mean that Okinawa has agreed to the permanent U.S. military presence in this small insular prefecture. It is for this reason that we must prevent Futenma’s Henoko relocation from being implemented by all means. All U.S. bases and their facilities in Japan are provided to the U.S. military under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Since Okinawa is a Japanese territory, U.S. bases in Okinawa also fall under the stipulations of the same security treaty, whereby the U.S. is guaranteed an absolute right to use the bases in Okinawa. Therefore, under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as well as the 2006 bilateral agreement, the U.S. has every legitimate right to demand Futenma’s relocation to Henoko.

Remember, though, that Futenma air station was constructed on private land that was forcefully confiscated by the U.S. Army at the end of World War II. Article 46 of the Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, which the U.S. also ratified, stipulates that private property cannot be confiscated in an occupied area. Certainly this blatant violation of international law by the U.S. military cannot be rectified by bilateral agreements such as the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty or the 2006 road map — just as a sales contract for stolen goods between fences cannot be validated.

The bottom line: The U.S. cannot demand that Futenma’s function be relocated to land reclaimed from pristine waters off the Henoko coast in northern Okinawa. Futenma must be returned to Okinawa, the original proprietor, with no strings attached. Period.

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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