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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 26 - August 1  > US forces imposes further base burdens on Okinawans in violation of SACO agreement
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2017 July 26 - August 1 [US FORCES]

US forces imposes further base burdens on Okinawans in violation of SACO agreement

July 28&31, 2017
Akahata has learned that the U.S. military at its Kadena Air Base in Okinawa routinely carries out parachuting drills and uses a pollution-causing aircraft parking apron in violation of the Japan-U.S. agreement, imposing heavier base burdens on local residents.

In areas surrounding the U.S. Kadena base which stretches through Okinawa City, Chatan Town, and Kadena Town, residents suffer damage from noise and exhaust fumes which U.S. military aircraft emit at a parking apron near residential communities and experience a sense of danger from the U.S. forces’ parachuting drills.

As measures to reduce residents’ base burdens, the Japanese and U.S. governments in the 1996 Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) final agreement decided to relocate the parking apron to a location on the base far away from residential areas. The two governments also agreed that parachuting training exercises should only be held at the USMC Auxiliary Airport on Ie-jima Island in the prefecture and that the use of the Kadena base for drills is an “exception”.

In January this year, a new parking apron was built in accordance with the SACO agreement and the former apron was supposed to be dismantled. However, in February, a KC 130 transport aircraft from the USMC Iwakuni base in Yamaguchi Prefecture and a U-2 spy plane from the U.S. Osan base in South Korea used the older apron on separate occasions. Furthermore, the U.S. military began conducting parachuting drills at the Kadena base on a monthly basis from April.

In protest against the U.S. military’s breach of the SACO agreement, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi and three municipal heads together visited Tokyo early in July and submitted to the Defense and Foreign ministries a written request demanding that the use of the older aircraft parking apron and the parachuting drills be suspended.

The written request points out that in defiance of protests from the prefectural and local governments as well as from the prefectural assembly in Okinawa, the U.S. forces continue holding parachute training exercises. It criticizes the U.S. military for showing no intent to reduce Okinawans’ base burdens.
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