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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Base Will Stay on Okinawa

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Posted on May 23, 2010
U.S. Navy / MC3 Joshua Cassatt

The U.S. supercarrier George Washington pulls into its new operating base at Yokosuka, Japan. Tokyo picks up 40 percent of the costs of American bases, including those on Okinawa.

Despite campaign promises and widespread protests, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has finally made the widely unpopular decision to allow the relocation of a U.S. military base on Okinawa.

Hatoyama had been on the fence for months on how to resolve the issue, with his approval rating plunging to less than 25 percent. —JCL

The New York Times:

Apologizing for failing to fulfill a prominent campaign promise, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told outraged residents of Okinawa on Sunday that he has decided to relocate an American air base to the north side of the island as originally agreed upon with the United States.

On his second visit to Okinawa this month, Mr. Hatoyama for first time conceded what Japanese media had been reporting for weeks: that he would accept Washington’s demands and honor a 2006 agreement to move the United States Marine Air Station Futenma to the island’s less populated north.

The decision is a humiliating setback for Mr. Hatoyama on a problem that has consumed his young government and could prove its undoing. Before last year’s historic election victory, he had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. But his apparent wavering on the issue helped drive his approval ratings below 25 percent.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 26, 2010 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

Its easy to decide in Okinawan referendum, stay or go.

U.S. military can’t vote and no diebold machines.

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By Eugenio Costa, May 25, 2010 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

“Okinawans were outraged Sunday that Japan’s prime minister reneged on his campaign pledge to move a U.S. military base off their island, a decision that upholds a long-standing agreement with Washington.

Protesters held signs plastered with the Japanese character for ‘anger’ as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited the Okinawa prefectural office. His broken promise over Okinawa deepens political confusion just weeks ahead of nationwide elections.”

SFGate 24 May

The Japanese are very controlled and reluctant to express “anger”.

The US’ goose is cooked.

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By bogopogo, May 25, 2010 at 2:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Carl,

If the Japanese government will not pay one cent to the U.S. Government - then why have they (the Japanese Government) agreed to pay something like 60% of the cost of moving 8,000 Marines to Guam? That’s several billion dollars - and they have agreed to pay it.

Before you sit there and tell me how the Okinawan people feel - perhaps you should spend some time on the island. I’ve spent the past 2 1/2 years here - and I’ve yet to have any Okinawan person be rude to me or tell me to go home or get off their island.

Sure, there are Okinawan’s who don’t want us here - but the vast majority of them know the financial benefit of having the U.S. military here.

An Okinawan friend of mine told me about a large anti-base rally they had a couple of weeks ago in Yomitan - he also told me that the majority of people who were at the rally were from mainland Japan and were flown down here to protest.

you wrote:
” it is true that after the US military denuded and destroyed Okinawa to rout the Japanese military from the island, there was nothing left, but staving Okinawans.”

Yeah - and the Japanese during WWII treated the Okinawans so great didn’t they? They were treated like a lower form of life. They were conscripted, but not given any uniforms, weapons or ammunition - were feed so many lies - that many of them chose to committ suicide rather than be taken by the “American devils”.

And then what’d we do after the invasion of Okinawa? We spent the next 27 years building up the island, and taking care of it’s people.

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By Carl, May 24, 2010 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

Once again, the Japanese never pay one cent to the U.S. military. It is true that the Japanese government pays some Japanese companies to build structures in Japan that U.S. force use, and pays some Japanese workers at those bases. However, if the USA didn’t foolishly waste money to stay at those bases, it wouldn’t need those contributions.

Someone wrote “The vast majority of Okinawans have no problem” That is outright false, the vast majority want US troops to leave. Check the Japanese polls, not what your local GI spinmaster puts out in the base newspaper. Okinawans are not all about money.

And for others, it is true that after the US military denuded and destroyed Okinawa to rout the Japanese military from the island, there was nothing left, but staving Okinawans. While Kadena was a Japanese base, Futenma was private property the US Marines just took. Locals who protested were arrested or shot.

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By Eugenio Costa, May 24, 2010 at 6:59 am Link to this comment

The issue is US military occupation of Japan against the wishes of the Japanese people.

If the US imperialists had any brains they would just pack up and leave, paying reparations for the damage they have done to a supposed ally.

But they don’t—have any brains that is.

An occupation of Japan against the wishes of the Japanese people will be a bloody disaster.

So far the protests have been peaceful.

This will not last long.

It is just a matter of time until they turn violent.

US servicemen will begin to disappear mysteriously.

US military installations will be attacked.

The US will soon be a foreign enemy under siege.

And the Chinese Communists will be only too happy to feed the fire on which the US is slowly roasted.

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By bogopogo, May 24, 2010 at 5:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

hidflect,

You’re exactly right about the first point. The base - Futenma - was there first.
After the Battle of Okinawa - there was not a whole lot left on Okinawa, not
that there was much there to begin with.

They established the base, and then the houses started building up around it.

And then they complain about the noise of the base being in a “populated”
area.

Well, maybe they shouldn’t have built up around the base then!

In Okinawa, I believe there is only one “base” that is joint usage - and that is
White Beach. Supposedly they could load amphibious and troop ships there -
but the roads going into White Beach are not nearly well developed enough to
handle that sort of traffic - so most likely any ship loading would happen in the
port of Naha.

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By hidflect, May 24, 2010 at 5:20 am Link to this comment

There’s a lot of “secrets” buried in this base issue.

1st is that the base was built in a resident free zone but the local government sold lots around the base to get quick cash. The people came after the base. Oops. They sold it off illegally - what happens to all the businesses there?

2nd is the base is a toxic dump and the cost to clean it up would be astronomical.

3rd is the base is also home for the Japanese military. Where would they go? Problematic.

4th is there 1000’s of unexploded Japanese ordinance buried there from the war. How to deal with that?

More and more issues exist. None of them reported in the media.

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By Mundt, May 24, 2010 at 4:39 am Link to this comment

“Commune 115” gets it right. But, can a poodle commit suicide?

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By samosamo, May 24, 2010 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

****************


As I said earlier, our military is not about to give up a single
military base on Okinawa, when in 1960 there were 117 and
now ‘just’ 42 or so. This is from Chalmers Johnson’s book
‘Blowback’, a very interesting read on what has been and is still
going on in the whole of the ‘far east’, Japan, China, Koreas and
Southeast asia. Unless much has changed, and certainly the
sexual assaults of okinawians has in the past decade or so given
cause and reason, then the nation of japan is bending over
backwards to make sure american military presence is not about
to be put out of the country, much to many protestations from
okinawians. Johnson has a whole chapter in ‘Blowback’ on
Okinawa in his book. But it is basically ‘fuck the civilians in
okinawa.

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By bogopogo, May 23, 2010 at 10:30 pm Link to this comment

Carl,

I don’t know what you’re smoking - but what you’re saying has no semblence of reality.

You quote an article by a former marine that makes lots of charges (the Japanese Government doesn’t pay anything towards U.S. bases costs in Japan) with out a single link to any support documentation.

So - as somebody who has lived in mainland Japan for 4 1/2 years, and Okinawa for 2 1/2 years - let me help clear things up for you.

First off - all construction on bases is done by Japanese construction companies. They work in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to ensure that buildings will meet U.S. building specifications and requirements (the buildings will do what we need them to do).

All renovations and improvements are done by Japanese contractors and construction companies.

This is paid for by the Japanese government.

Thousands of “Japanese Nationals” work on the U.S. bases in Japan. Their salaries are paid for by the Japanese government. Some of them even get higher rates of pay based upon their English langugage skills.

Utility costs are paid for by the government of Japan.

“Another milestone was the New Special Measures Agreement, signed by the Government of Japan in January 1991. This agreement, combined with previously-agreed-to Labor Cost Sharing agreements and a generous Facilities Improvement Program, clearly established Japan as our most generous ally in Host Nation Support. Japan pays most yen-based labor expenses (appropriated and non-appropriated funds) and a portion of utility costs (fuel, electricity, sewage, and water). The SMA was renewed in 2008. “

(from http://www.usfj.mil/Welcome.html)

In addition, the government of Japan is committed to covering about 60% of the cost of moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

As for the Okinawan people. True - some of them don’t want us here - some.

The problem is - the majority of people you see during these protests are people that have been flown down by orginizers from mainland Japan. The Okinawan people know they are outsiders.

The vast majority of Okinawans have no problem with the US Military presence - because they know the amount of money it bring with it.

Last summer Kadena Air Force Base changed it’s policy about active duty members living off base - making it virtually impossible for new military families arriving on island to live off base.

Here is the locals response:

“The total rent generated from off-base homes is estimated to be about 8 billion yen per year (about $80 million),” Okae said. “There are about 40 housing agencies that cater to Americans with more than 150 employees. Many of them will end up losing their jobs.”

They could loose up to $80 million a YEAR from families not being able to live off base.

You think they want us to leave? Think again.

That doesn’t even begin to cover things like the fact that most American families stationed overhere end up buying 2 used Japanese cars (there’s a HUGE market for used cars around US bases in Japan). Those families all pay for Japanese Insurance, Road Tax (paid once a year) and JCI (Japanese Compuslory Insurance) paid about every 2 years. All that money goes straight into the Japanese economy.

Oh - and the claim in the article that the Japanese military is “first rate” is a joke. Sure they might be ranked in the top 10 - but having US troops stationed here in Japan - allows them to not spend as much on military and keep their “defensive” posture according to their constitution.

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By Carl, May 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Horrible reporting! Japan pays the USA nothing to keep “our” bases there. The Japanese don’t want them, the Okinawans don’t want them, the American people don’t want them, and 90% of US Marines do not want them. Here we have a few corporations which benefit from this racket supported by a few mindless Generals who want to keep “their bases”. This is no rant, all the facts are here:
http://www.g2mil.com/Japan-bases.htm

Why can’t the NY Times publish this truth and end this insane problem? Why can’t truthout publish this truth by reposting that article?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

A very bad decision.

These bases should be closed and the troops moved to the Southwest U.S. were the troops could man the border.

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By Eugenio Costa, May 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

The base won’t remain there long.

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By Commune115, May 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

What a pathetic clown, he should have some self-respect and do harakiri on live TV.

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By samosamo, May 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

****************


Ever wonder how deeply instilled the military industrial
congressional financial complex’s imperial endeavors really are?
Just try to think that a military base will be closed on Okinawa or
any of the other myriad bases someone in america owns will be
shut down. Before too long, each one of the wealthiest people in
america will have their very on military installation, I can only
wish I had one.

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