To our chagrin in Okinawa, U.S. base-related problems come one after another ceaselessly.

This time it is the relocation of U.S. Naha Port Facility, commonly known as “Naha Military Port,” to the city of Urasoe’s west coast facing Camp Kinser, U.S. Forces Okinawa’s most important logistics and support base.

The current military port, which is located on the south side of Naha Commercial Port, a valuable historical site, occupies the land mass with an area of 55.9 hectares; the piers with a total length of 2,545 meters are capable of docking seven 20,000-ton warships at the same time. The city of Naha has been demanding its early return for years, saying the military port is hindering the city’s economic planning and redevelopment. The demand for its return, in particular, intensified after the Vietnam War had ended since the port was left almost unused.

Actually, though, the return of said military port had been agreed upon between Tokyo and Washington in 1974, but, as is usual with such returns, the U.S. side never failed to attach a string: Build its replacement on the Urasoe coast. They must have known about Urasoe’s land development project on its west coast with a commercial port integrated with it. Washington’s intention is clear enough, which is to make its military port and logistics center as close as possible. Access to Kadena Air Base would also be facilitated significantly because of a shortened transportation distance and also because a constant traffic congestion, as is the case today, will be circumvented.

In short, the issues of Naha Military Port’s relocation to Urasoe and Air Station Futenma’s relocation to Henoko are essentially the same by nature because the relocation of the two bases within Okinawa is nothing but an attempt to maintain the U.S. military footprint in Okinawa unchanged or rather strengthened despite our wish to the contrary. On our side, then, to be reticent about the bases’ relocation means we have sanctioned the U.S. military’s permanent presence in spite of ourselves.

The relocation of the two bases within Okinawa must therefore be prevented from being realized. All Okinawa must be reunited once again and lodge its strongest opposition ever to the Urasoe relocation plan, too, with both Tokyo and Washington.

For us to be reticent about the current relocation plans means we have sanctioned a permanent U.S. military presence, that is, the status quo of Okinawa as an indefinite U.S. military bastion and colony. This shouldn’t be our choice for the future generations.

Yoshio Shimoji


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