It is time to Bring the U.S. Marines Home!
In 1945, during the last days of WWII, the U.S. and the Japanese Imperial forces fought an intense ground battle in Okinawa, a small island in southwest Japan. The battle claimed 200,000 lives, including many American and Japanese soldiers but also a much larger number of unarmed Okinawan civilians. Ever since, U.S. military forces have occupied Okinawa, using land which was seized from families at gunpoint. Even today, 34 U.S. military bases and facilities, including 8 Marine Corps bases and 1 Air Force base, still remain in Okinawa. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S. closed many bases at home and abroad. Although the risks from the Cold War are long gone, U.S. Military bases in Okinawa have remained the same or grown. Now, 3 billion dollars has been budgeted to build a new Marine Air Base on the sea at Henoko.
Issues of US Military Bases and Relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko, Nago City [PDF]
- ・Cover, Back cover
- ・Henoko Oura Bay, Gifts from Nature
- ・Construction Project of Futenma Replacement Facility ( in Henoko)
- ・The Current Situation of Futenma Air Station and the Construction Project of Futenma Replacement Facility
- ・US Military Bases and Facilities on Okinawa and Its Vicinity, Air Spaces/Water Areas Used for US Forces Training in Japan
- ・Main Incidents and Accidents Related to the US Military Bases on Okinawa, Background on the Relocation Issue of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma
The Construction of a Megabase in the Home of Endangered Species
The Okinawan people strongly hope for a life in peace without bases, but the U.S. and Japanese governments have announced a new construction plan to move the dangerous Futenma to the middle of pristine natural habitat a few miles away in northern Okinawa, at Henoko. The sea at Henoko is a treasure trove for marine life, where many rare species, including the Okinawan Dugong, live. Dugong, a large marine mammal similar to the manatee, is an endangered species and protected by international environmental conventions. It is said that the mermaid legend was built around this lovely animal, which is now in danger of extinction because of the plan to construct a gigantic base on their ocean.
Okinawans have staged two large protest rallies against the planned base, one attended by 90,000 people (April 2010) and the other by 100,000 (September 2012). Since 2008, the prefectural assembly has repeatedly adopted resolutions against the plan. In January 2013, mayors of all 41 cities, towns and villages of Okinawa signed the petition to oppose the Henoko base construction. All the municipal councils have adopted resolutions against the plan. In 2010, Nago city residents elected Mayor Susumu Inamine, who promised “not to allow a new military base to be built on Henoko’s sea or land.” This January, despite strong pressure from the Japanese government, Mayor Inamine was reelected on an anti-base platform. Poll after poll suggests the vast majority of the Okinawa population opposes the new base. The “No!” to the new Henoko base by citizens of Nago and those of Okinawa is unequivocal. We demand U.S. give up the plan and respect the pride, dignity, and democracy of Okinawa. Please bring the Marines home. The U.S. respects human rights and democracy. Please hear the Okinawan people’s democratic voice, and realize such ideals.
Please do not impose the burden of hosting U.S. military bases any more on Okinawan people. A petition drive has been organized by a group of international intellectuals, artists and activists, including Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, to express solidarity with Okinawans opposing the construction of the new base at Henoko – please sign at http://chn.ge/1n7ZmyR.
US Military Cargo Plane Landing Adjacent to an Okinawan Primary School, (June 2013)
US military aircraft fly over Futenma Daini Elementary School
The United States Marines Airbase Futenma in Ginowan city, Okinawa
US Military helicopter crashes onto Okinawa International University(August 2004)
FUTENMA, the World’s Most Dangerous Base: Would you keep silent if your loved ones were at risk?
The planned construction of the Marine Air Base on the Henoko sea was a demand made by the U.S. government, as a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station, which is known as “the most dangerous base in the world,” as it is surrounded by residential neighborhoods of Ginowan City. In 1996, the governments of the US and Japan agreed that Futenma was to be returned, with a deadline of 2003, but now the U.S. government declares that instead of returning Futenma, they will continue to use it until the completion of the base at Henoko in 2022. This means that by the time the new base is completed, Futenma Air Station will have continued its dangerous operations for 26 years since the agreement to return it. Futenma Air Station is dangerous by its design. In the US, the military are required to establish “Clear Zones” over approach paths of runways, but in Futenma, areas that would be categorized as “Clear Zones” under the U.S. standard cover 800 civilian houses with 3,600 residents, an elementary school and a children’s center. Guidelines regarding the safe placement of U.S. military bases are ignored. Military flight training routes are set over residential neighborhoods. On August 13, 2004, a large U.S. Marine assault transport helicopter crashed into Okinawa International University while returning to the nearby Futenma base. Despite this terrifying accident, the U.S. military has recently added twenty-four MV-22 tilt rotor aircrafts Osprey to its fleet of Marine helicopters on Futenma, and conducts heavy training exercises over schools and residential neighborhoods until 11 at night. A catastrophic accident could occur any time. It is no more acceptable to continue to operate the base, which is in direct violation of the regulations covering U.S. military bases, for over 26 years. The best solution to the closure of Futenma is to return Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. mainland.
Okinawans have staged large protest rallies against the planned base(September 2012)
The Okinawan Prefectural Delegation (“Kenpakusho”) to Tokyo (27 January 2013)
Okinawan Members of National Parliament and Prefectural Assembly, together with Local Town and Village Mayors and Assembly Members, Protesting against Osprey Deployment (October 2012)
Are the U.S. military bases and marines in Okinawa really necessary?
74% of U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, and the majority of them are Marine bases. Americans from all walks of life, including politicians, retired military personnel, regional elected officials, religious leaders, and members of think tanks, are calling for the removal of U.S. Marines from Okinawa. Numerous U.S. politicians, veterans, religious leaders, think tank members and others from a wide variety of disciplines have explicitly supported withdrawal of Marines from Okinawa. The U.S. defense budget is to be cut by 100 billion dollars every year through the coming decade, and the Marines are also being downsized. U.S. military bases within the U.S. have been closing. Last year, the nonpartisan RAND Corporation conducted a study showing that transferring all of the Marines in Okinawa back to U.S., and rotating 2,500 Marine Expeditionary Unit members on amphibious assault ships in the region would have no effect on military response time in case of emergency, and would be an economical option.
In 2011, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin (D, MI) and Ranking Member Senator John McCain (R, AZ), as well as Senate Foreign Relations East Asian Subcommittee Chairman Senator Jim Webb (D, VA) called the present multi-billion dollar Okinawan buildup plan “unrealistic, unworkable and unaffordable.” They called for a simple plan to close the dangerous Futenma Air Station without any new construction by spreading and rotating Marine combat units.
According to the Okinawa Times (May 8, 2011), Retired Marine Corps General James Jones, the former National Security Advisor stated, “The Marines can move anywhere and the location change of the Marines in Okinawa does not affect the U.S. military universal operation.” Many veterans who served in Okinawa are shocked by the fact U.S. bases in Okinawa have not changed while many military bases in the U.S. are closed or combined.
Please withdraw the Marines from Okinawa, and realize reduction of base-hosting burden by returning to the Okinawans land appropriated from them for base construction after the Battle of Okinawa 69 years ago.
The U.S. Congress, in order to reduce the budget deficit, has made it mandatory to reduce the defense spending by 1 trillion dollars over ten years. Such large cuts will necessitate closure of bases on the U.S. mainland, thus reduced employment. Instead of spending money on Marine bases in Okinawa, bring the Marines home, reduce the base burden of Okinawa, and maintain jobs in the United States.
Economic Recovery Instead Of War. Now Is the Time To Bring The Marines And The Jobs Home.
Unfortunately, the Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan has raised tensions in East Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seems inclined to a military response to resolve the issue. In an April meeting with Prime Minister Abe, U.S. President Barack Obama said that he told Prime Minister Abe that “it would be a profound mistake to continue to see escalation around this issue rather than dialogue and confidence-building measures between China and Japan. And we’re going to do everything we can to encourage that diplomatically.” Peace does not arise from military might. It comes with dialogue and mutual understanding. The planned military base at Henoko would further raise tensions between China and Japan, and would run counter to confidence-building between the two countries. Even if Japan bears the 3 billion dollars’ cost to build this base, it will still cost the U.S. 200 million dollars yearly to maintain it. Let us stop this wasteful plan.
Michael Mullen, the 17th Joint Chief of Staff (2007-2011) and retired Navy Admiral, has said that the greatest threat to America is the national debt.
Now is the time to close Futenma Air Station, and to recall the Marines back to the United States, which help save the U.S. military budget, and maintain jobs in the United States.
We hope you agree with us.
We call on you the U.S. citizens to appeal to your government.
The Okinawa Opinion Ad Campaign Group
U.S. military bases occupy about 11 % of Okinawa’s total land area. Approximately 19 % of Okinawa main land, where the prefecture’s population and industries are concentrated, is exclusively used by the U.S. military.
A Message from Oliver Stone, Mairead Maguire and Noam Chomsky
Bring Justice to Okinawa
Professor Emeritus, MIT
Nobel Peace laureate
The war in Okinawa has not ended. U.S. military bases still remain 70 years after World War II, threatening people’s health, safety, and life. But instead of reducing the U.S. military footprint in Okinawa, the U.S. and Japanese governments are trying to build a new U.S. Marine Corps airbase and military port on the biologically diverse shores of Henoko through a massive reclamation project.
The area is home to the marine mammal dugong and many other endangered species. Poll after poll indicates that the vast majority of the 1.4 million people of Okinawa do not want the base, and, in January, the mayor who opposed the new base won reelection in the city of Nago, where Henoko is located, a clear indication that local residents do not want it.
The mayor, Susumu Inamine, is in the U.S. this week to call for cancellation of the base construction plan for his city. Please join him in bringing justice to Okinawa. The People of Okinawa deserve human rights and democracy as much as people of the United States do.
In January, over one hundred prominent artists, scholars and peace advocates, including Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Mairead Maguire, Michael Moore, and Naomi Klein, issued a statement opposing the new base construction in Okinawa.
Please join the international movement and sign the petition http://chn.ge/1n7ZmyR.
Write to President Obama. We must respect human rights and environmental rights in Okinawa.
Message from Inamine Susumu, Mayor of Nago city, Okinawa
Help us save our land and sea: join us in preventing the U.S. military construction and protect our precious environmental heritage.
For 69 long years, Okinawa has been forced to host disproportionately a large scale of U.S. bases in Japan. Even after decades of protest, 73.8% of American military facilities in Japan remain concentrated on our tiny islands, which make up only 0.6% of the total land area of Japan.
Now, the U.S. and Japanese governments plan to close so-called “the most dangerous military air base in the world”, U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base in Ginowan City, and as its replacement facility, they aim to construct a new base in Henoko. We believe that this plan is to merely move the Futenma’s danger to my jurisdiction, which is certain to cause irreparable damage to the coral reef and sea grass beds off our north-east coast.
As the Mayor of Nago City, I am implacably opposed to this plan. This is because it will seal our beautiful coastal waters under concrete and sacrifice our pristine waters and biodiverse wildlife to military priorities the people of Okinawa have repeatedly voted against and unequivocally reject.
Inexplicably, in violation of the will of the vast majority of the Okinawan people, expressed in successive municipal, prefectural and national elections, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima gave his official approval to the Japanese Government’s request of the Henoko reclamation project on December 27, 2013.
Only three weeks later, I was re-elected as Nago mayor based on my irreversible pledge to stop any construction of the proposed base on sea or land.
This verdict from the electorate must be accepted as Nago citizens’ clear opposition to the new base, and I am proud of the people of Nago who decisively expressed their will without giving in to pressure from the Japanese government.
I will never give up my unflagging and indomitable determination. From the bottom of my heart, I ask you, the people of the United States. Please, listen to sincere voices of the people of Okinawa and support us to stop the reclamation and reinforcement project to build the new U.S. military base in Henoko.