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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 May 10 - 16  > Okinawans’ solidarity 45 years after reversion to Japan, the power to stop new base construction
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2017 May 10 - 16 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Okinawans’ solidarity 45 years after reversion to Japan, the power to stop new base construction

May 15, 2017

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

May 15 this year marks the 45th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972. For 27 years since the end of WWII, Okinawans under U.S. military rule had hoped to lay claim to the fundamental human rights as guaranteed in the postwar Japanese Constitution as well as to reclaim a peaceful Okinawa without military bases. However, even 45 years after the return of Okinawa, 70% of U.S. bases in Japan are still concentrated in the southernmost prefecture which makes up only 0.6% of Japan’s total land area. Accidents and crimes committed by U.S. personnel have shown no sign of decreasing in number.

Yara Chobyo became chief executive of the “Ryukyu Government” as a result of the first popular election in U.S.-controlled Okinawa. In the run-up to Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, Yara in November 1971 compiled a “statement” which included the hopes and aspirations that Okinawans, whose human rights and property had been trampled on by the U.S. military, had.

The statement said that it was the U.S. forces, the Okinawan occupation forces, that had constructed immense bases exclusively and intentionally in Okinawa and that Okinawa was in essence regarded to be their military facility. It asserted that the “guns before butter” policy of the U.S. had been severely restricting Okinawans’ political rights and even infringing upon their fundamental human rights.

The statement also mentioned that Okinawans strongly hope to rejoin Japan because they are longing for access to the fundamental human rights enshrined in the pacifist Constitution of Japan. On the occasion of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, the statement called for an Okinawa composed of truly peaceful islands without any military bases, not as a huge military bastion.

The1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty decided to separate Okinawa from Japan and presented the suggestion that Okinawa be placed under a trusteeship system with the United States as administrator. The treaty stipulated that until the United Nations adopted this suggestion, sovereignty over Okinawa will remain in the hands of the United States.

Based on the treaty, it was impossible for Okinawa to revert to Japan. What opened the way for reversion was the power of Okinawans’ solidarity.

However, the situation of excessive U.S. base burdens in Okinawa has not changed even after the handover of Okinawa to Japan. Now, the Abe government is trying to reclaim the pristine sea of Oura Bay in Okinawa’s Henoko to construct another U.S. base. The new base will have nothing to do with the “defense of Japan”. It will be a state-of-the-art “sortie stronghold” for rapid deployment of U.S. Marine Corps units.

What will open the way for the cancellation of the construction of such a base will again be the power of Okinawans’ solidarity with Governor Onaga Takeshi in their lead.

Past related article:
> What past gov’ts did for return of Okinawa [May 16, 2013]
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