Representative Director, Okinawa Council against A and H Bombs
Chair, Dear delegates from overseas and Japan,
I would like to present you a report about Okinawa, islands of U.S. bases that have became a foothold for nuclear attack. Allow me to begin this report by expressing my heartfelt gratitude and extending greetings of solidarity to you, representatives of peace forces overseas and peace and democratic forces of Japan who support or are fighting with us in our struggle in Okinawa.
1. On the Trans-Japan Peace Caravan
The Trans-Japan Peace Caravan started on March 10th this year from Nago City, North of Okinawa main island, where the Futemma Base is going to be relocated, and continued until April 28th, the anniversary day of the entry into force of the Japan-U.S. mutual security treaty. It was a great
success thanks to the cooperation and concerted efforts of many peace-loving people across the country. The Peace Caravan carried the slogan "Save the Dogongs." Its most important objective was to raise public awareness nation-wide about the problem of planned construction of a new base in Okinawa and to strengthen anti-base public opinion. It achieved this by linking the problem of the base to issues specific to each local community, especially the concrete local initiatives for preventing the implementation of the War Laws. We now can say that this aim has been achieved through 50 days of the initiative for peace.
We Okinawans were tremendously encouraged as we traveled across the country. Personally, it was a particularly moving experience as it took me back to the days when I was active in the movement to demand the return of Okinawa and Ogasawara islands to Japan, as well as the time
when I was in the midst of the struggle to stop the war of aggression against Vietnam.
2. Increasing crimes and accidents involving
On September 4th, 1995, a young girl was assaulted by 3 soldiers of the U.S. Marine Corps in the street in Okinawa. She was pushed into a rented car and raped.
This painful case gave rise to a popular struggle that spread like a wildfire. The struggle demanded the reduction of U.S. bases, the revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement, the enforcement of discipline on military personnel and the full reparation for the damage. I recall with feelings of gratitude how peace forces in other countries, especially the U.S. and the Philippines, extended their solidarity to our struggle.
Today, although more than 5 years have passed since then, the situation in Okinawa has not changed a bit.
On June 29th this year, past two o'clock in the middle of the night, a Japanese woman in her twenties was raped by Timothy Woodland, a U.S. air sergeant in Kadena Base, at a parking lot in Chatancho Mihama, Okinawa.
The Japanese tribunal issued a warrant for the arrest of the soldier, but he was free for 5 days, because the U.S. army refused to turn over the suspect to the Japanese police, using article 17 of the Japan-U.S. status of forces agreement.
One day after the crime, the Japanese Prime
Minister Koizumi, on his trip to the U.S. met with the President Bush,
but he did not say a word about the incident. And later, during his
stay in London, he enraged the people of Okinawa by saying that "he did
not want to see the Japan-U.S. alliance
strained over that issue."
The U.S. soldier in question was finally indicted on July 19th and the tribunal rejected his request for bail, saying that "the accused may flee the country or have contact with the eye witness (also a U.S. soldier) to destroy evidence."
Two days had barely passed after the indictment
of the soldier when a U.S. air force officer, also belonging to the Kadena
Base, set fire to a private vehicle. A local newspaper, referring
to the frequent recurrence of criminal cases involving U.S. soldiers this
year commented: This year there
have been a series of serious climes involving US soldiers. They have provoked the Okinawan people so greatly as to shake the relationship between the US and Japanese governments. One important characteristic of these climes is that they are often followed immediately by similar cases. Following is the quotation from the same paper.
5 days after the case of obscene conduct committed against a high school girl on January 9th, in Kanatake-cho, a member of the Marine Corps assaulted and injured the proprietress of a restaurant in Kunigashira Village, then ran amuck in the police station before being arrested. Then, on the following two days, the 19th and the 20th, there were two cases of U.S. marines setting fire to restaurants in Chatan-cho Kitamae occurred. 2 days after these cases had been published by the local police, on February 15th a soldier belonging to the Green Berets, elite troops of the U.S. Army's First Special Force stationed in Okinawa, damaged a patrol car of the local police waiting for a green light. HE was arrested by policemen and Military Police, but not without putting up a big fight."
Confronted with such a situation, an officer
of the Defense and Facilities Agency said: Never in the past have been
such serious cases happened in such rapid succession. The situation
is extremely serious, but totally prohibiting alcohol or banning the soldiers
from going out at night in order to
contain their behavior may just make matters worse. The government does not have many solutions and it is at a loss what to do."
It is clear that enforcement of discipline alone does not eliminate the crimes committed by U.S. military personnel. It is also difficult to convince the soldiers who are trained to kill and destroy that they must behave like "gentlemen".
In this context, the Okinawa prefectural council unanimously adopted a resolution protesting the crimes committed by U.S. military personnel and demanding the reduction of the marines stationed in Okinawa.
However, Lieutenant-General Earl Haletson, the coordinating officer of the U.S. four armies and the supreme Commander of the U.S. forces in Okinawa, responded by calling the governor of Okinawa, the elected representative of the people of Okinawa, as well as the Japanese members of parliament and prefectural council, idiots and cowards. This is inadmissible.
For your reference, cases involving U.S. military that have happened after the return of Okinawa to Japan amount to about 5,000 to date and about 540 of them are atrocious crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, and arson committed mostly by the U.S. marines.
3) An unfair treaty: the Japan-US Status
of Forces Agreement must be revised
The U.S. military refuses to turn over criminal soldiers to the Japanese police on the ground of the article 17-5C of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement.
They say that in the event of a U.S. non-military citizen residing in Japan committing a crime, he/she may be arrested by the Japanese police by virtue of the law of the land. But the military personnel is exempted from this.
We find behind such a statement the notion
that the U.S. armed forces and soldiers who are policemen of the world
and therefore are assigned to noble missions. This notion can also
be seen in the statement made by the Chief Commander Jones of the U.S.
Marines when he came to Okinawa at the end of June. At a meeting
with local media representatives, he praised the people of Okinawa prefecture
for their contribution to the support of the U.S. bases and said that he
hopes that the people of the prefecture will take pride in playing a significant
role for the peace and prosperity of this region.
The inequality of the status of forces agreement is not limited to article 17. Even the governor of Okinawa, known as a conservative governor, has demanded a drastic revision of the agreement, instead of modifications.
The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement is the symbol of Japan's submission to the U.S. We are in favor of the establishment of truly equal, fair and friendly relations with the American people and their governments. Only then will the U.S. be our "good neighbor", not a "bad neighbor."
For this reason let us fight against U.S. hegemonism.
4) Do not allow the construction of a new
base by the U.S. armed forces
Okinawa accounts for only 0.6% of Japan's total area, but 75% of the U.S. military bases and facilities in Japan are concentrated in this small prefecture.
These military bases serve as the foothold for aggression and nuclear attack. Their presence is extremely dangerous to the local people. The most striking example is the Futemma Base located in the heart of a densely populated city.
Using the SACO agreement (agreement of the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee), the Japanese and U.S. governments are planning to relocate the Futemma Base to Nago City, in the northern part of the main island and build in Nago a gigantic base twice as big as the Futemma Base. The new base will cover an area of 75 hectares, 15 times the area of Shuri Castle, with a runway of 2,000 meters. Large carriers like C17 Globemaster III and V22 Osprey, personnel carrier planes capable of vertical take-off and landing, will be deployed there. The construction of the new base 1) is an outrage which runs counter to the current towards peace in Asia; 2) tramples the aspiration of the people of Okinawa to the reduction and withdrawal of the bases; 3) undermines the democracy by ignoring the results of the referendums held in the prefecture and Nago City; 4) deprives dugongs and other precious species of their habitat and destroys the natural environment. As regards to environmental protection, in U.S. Department for Defense documents, the protection of dugongs is clearly stipulated.
The "15 year-lease", the condition set by the prefecture and Nago City for hosting the new base has not even been put on the agenda of the negotiations between Japan and the U.S. If this condition is not met, the acceptance to host the base should be withdrawn.
The problem of constructing a new base
is not limited to Nago City. In fact, there is a plan to relocate
the military port of Naha to Urazoe City. Until recently, the mayors
of these two cities, both elected as progressive united front representatives,
had prevented the plan of the Okinawa governor
Inamine to promote the transfer of the port, but since the election of conservative mayors in these two cities, the plan to construct a new military port in Urazoe City has become an urgent issue. This is not a mere relocation of the Nago military port, but the construction of one of the world's largest
military ports. It will be a 15-meter deep port, suitable for the calls of nuclear submarines and equipped with Guntley cranes. The command for the LCACs (landing vessel carrying tanks, trucks and soldiers) and pre-supply accumulation ships of the U.S. Seventh Fleet will be located there. All
this means that the new port will be another foothold for U.S. intervention. Whether to allow or not the construction of these new bases in Okinawa is a question which may determine the future of peace in Asia and Japan in the 21st century.
During the last century, we were successful in holding the World Conference against A and Bombswith the slogans "eliminate nuclear weapons", "prevent nuclear war in Vietnam" and "relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha".
Now is the time for us to press the nuclear weapons States to fulfill their international commitment to abolish all their nuclear arsenals.
Okinawa is a base for nuclear attack. The secret agreement between Japan and the U.S. on the bringing-in of nuclear weapons is still effective.
Let us go forward, by linking the struggle for the withdrawal of the dangerous bases from Okinawa and Japan with the struggle for the elimination of nuclear weapons!