The mayor of Nago, in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, again verbalized on Saturday his opposition to the relocation plan of U.S. Marines’ Air Station Futenma to an offshore area in his city. The American military airbase is now currently located in a densely populated residential area in Ginowan, also in Okinawa, and the residents there have been protesting for a long time against the airbase in matters of safety and security.
“It would constitute a denial of democracy and an infringement of human rights if the relocation plan is forced through” because many Okinawa residents are opposed to the relocation plan of the base anywhere within the island prefecture, Mayor Susumu Inamine said, speaking at a gathering in New York. In front of an audience of around 60, the mayor said that Okinawa has been forced to bear the burden of hosting U.S. military bases since the end of World War II. This issue has generally been a thorn between relations of Okinawa with the Japanese government in general, as Japan’s southernmost prefecture feels that the burden of living with the U.S. military was forced on them, and that they basically did not have any choice about it. Anti-U.S. base protests are common within the prefecture, mostly because the residents feel they are the ones who suffer every time there is a safety mishap made by the U.S. military, or a crime issue that is connected with any U.S. military personnel.
This is Inamine’s second visit to the United States as mayor of Nago, and he is also scheduled to meet with members of Congress in Washington. There is a strong chance that he will voice his appeal again to the U.S. lawmakers. Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima, under huge pressure from both sides, ultimately approved the landfill and reclamation work necessary to move the Futenma base to Nago. The following month, Inamine was re-elected as mayor of Nago on a platform that opposed the relocation.
[via Global Post]