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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 20 - 26  > LDP Koike in Tokyo governor race calls US Yokota base a ‘treasure’
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2016 July 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

LDP Koike in Tokyo governor race calls US Yokota base a ‘treasure’

July 21 & 26, 2016
Former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Koike Yuriko, who is contesting for Tokyo governor, called the U.S. Yokota Air Base a “treasure to local communities” in her street speeches held on July 21 in base-hosting Fussa City. She expressed her determination to move forward with a joint use of the base by military and civilian aircraft.

In 1999, the then Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro announced a plan for a civilian-military dual-use of the Yokota base. Ishihara won the gubernatorial election by promising to realize the return of the base to Japan. He, however, broke his election promise and began asking the central government to hold talks in regard to the dual-use plan.

Former Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki followed his predecessor’s steps. However, local governments which host the Yokota AB and their residents voiced opposition to the plan by saying that the dual use will worsen noise pollution from the base and lead to the permanent use of the base.

The talks for the joint use between the state and the metropolitan government have so far made no advance due to local opposition.

In the July 21 speech, Koike stressed, “When I become governor, I’ll accomplish the joint use project which successive governors failed to achieve.”

Meanwhile, the Japanese and U.S. governments have been developing a framework for using the Yokota base as a stronghold for bilateral joint military operations. Under the framework, in 2012, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force headquarters was relocated from another location in Tokyo to the Yokota AB. In 2017, the U.S. military will deploy CV-22 Ospreys to the base and start maintenance operations of stealth fighters at the base.

The U.S. Yokota Air Base is not a “treasure” to local people. What the Tokyo governor should do is to remove hazards associated with the military presence and not open the way for the dual-use of the base by both military and civilian aircraft.

* * *

In her campaign speech on July 24 near JR Itabashi Station, Koike expressed her clear opposition to granting foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. She said, “Whether they are permanent residents or not, I will not agree with that idea.”

Her hawkish stance attracts many rightist organizations, including a group working on the popularization of the “New History Textbook” whose contents run against the principles of the existing Constitution.

The group is supporting Koike to win in the gubernatorial election as she asserts her unequivocal opposition to giving local suffrage to foreign residents in Japan. The group also cited her rightist historical views as one big reason for supporting her.

Koike has been attacking Japan’s postwar history education as masochistic and the postwar Constitution as imposed upon Japan by the United States, calling for a “Japanese” constitution as early as possible. The group above also criticizes the postwar education system for being self-abusive and praises Japan’s past war of aggression as a just war.

Past related articles:
> 26 US fighters fly to Yokota AB, largest number since Vietnam War [January 22 & 23, 2016]
> JCP in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly urges governor to oppose deployment of Ospreys to Yokota base [May 13, 2015]
> Japan-US alliance and SDF -- Part VI Information sharing and heavy reliance on US forces [July 23,2010]
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