Not many people “know enough” about the bases in Okinawa. On November 30, a tank was dumped from a U.S. military aircraft in Aomori Prefecture. The absurdity of what is happening here is “an absurdity that could happen anywhere in Japan. Tokyo-born reporter Takeshi Abe, who has lived in Okinawa for 25 years, reports on the current situation in Okinawa as the 50th anniversary of its reversion to Japan approaches.
A base plan “unlikely to be completed
With his right hand lightly gripping the desk, he tapped it repeatedly. His expression was grimmer than ever. Anger, frustration, and a sense of urgency. On November 25, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki held a press conference to announce that he had “disapproved” the design changes for the construction of a new base in Henoko.
A reporter asked me a question. Some people are concerned that disapproval will result in a delay in removing the danger of Futenma Air Station, since both the Japanese and U.S. governments maintain the position that Henoko is the ‘only solution. What does the governor think about that?
Governor Tamaki looked the reporter in the eye and answered.
I have repeatedly argued that the relocation to Henoko will not lead to the elimination of the danger of Futenma as soon as possible. At the very least It will take more than 12 years. It will take at least 12 years. Depending on the nature of the work on this soft ground, it is clear that the uncertainty of when it will be finished will be extended further and further.
Whose burden is the 1 trillion yen or 2 trillion yen “budget”?
The Futenma Air Station, a U.S. military base that sits in a densely populated area of Ginowan City in central Okinawa, must be eliminated. The plan to eliminate the Futenma Air Station, which sits in a densely populated area in the city of Ginowan in central Okinawa, and to build and relocate the base to Henoko in Nago City in the northern part of the island, has yet to be realized nearly a quarter of a century after it was first floated. In addition, the government has officially admitted that it will take at least 12 more years. The government has announced a budget of 930 billion yen. The Okinawa Prefectural Government estimates that it will cost 2.5 times that amount, or 2.55 trillion yen.
The reason for the huge increase in the budget is the discovery of seriously soft ground on the seabed at the reclamation site of the planned base. This necessitated “additional work” to improve the loose ground, which experts have described as “mayonnaise-like. For this reason, the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau applied for design changes, which the governor “disapproved.
For Governor Tamaki, who was elected three years ago on a pledge to oppose the new base, the disapproval is said to be his “last trump card.
Up until now, he has had a number of trump cards. The most notable was the 2019 prefectural referendum in which more than 70% of the people of the prefecture voted against the construction of the new base. In a democracy, the plan should have been abandoned at that point at the latest. But since the government refuses to listen, the cards in their hands are dwindling. The lives and livelihoods of the people of Okinawa are at stake in this unreasonable game where one side sets the rules. This is where Okinawa’s frustration lies.
Governor Tamaki continues.
“Furthermore, the day before yesterday, the MV-22, a transport aircraft belonging to Futenma, was launched. 22 The day before yesterday, a metal water bottle fell from an Osprey. It fell in the middle of a residential area. The situation has become even worse. 12 years. I wondered if such a situation would continue for another 12 years. Not only the citizens but also the people of the prefecture were really angry and worried. I have to say strongly that the government is completely ignoring this reality.
In a city where danger is falling from the sky
The “incident” took place on the 23rd in Ginowan City, home to Futenma. The water bottle that fell from the sky weighed 800 grams and had a capacity of 1.8 liters. The total weight must have been much heavier because the security camera showed the liquid popping from the impact of the fall. The bottom, which should have been round, was torn and crushed flat. If it hits someone, they die,” the citizens feared.
It fell at the entrance of a private house. It was only 80 meters from Ginowan City Hall, where many citizens come and go, and 130 meters from the main road. These are distances that an Osprey can travel in an instant.
On the water bottle was a symbol of the unit to which it belonged, with a tiger on it. If it hadn’t been for that, I wonder if the US military would have accepted responsibility; they didn’t for the accident that happened four years ago 500 meters away.
On December 7, 2017, parts of a CH53 large transport helicopter fell on the roof of Midorigaoka Nursery School. The school children were playing in the yard beyond the roof. It was a near catastrophe. However, the U.S. military took the inexplicable step of admitting that the parts belonged to the helicopter, but denying any involvement. The U.S. military claims that all the parts were removed before takeoff, but there is no way for Japan to verify this.
As the U.S. military refused to acknowledge its responsibility, the nursery school, the victim, was subjected to slander. When I picked up the phone, I was told, “How can you have the time to make up a story? In an e-mail, he wrote, “It’s not an accident, it’s a faked incident. You did it, didn’t you?” “Treating people like criminals with lies is a crime, isn’t it?
Chie Mi Yonashiro, who was sending her daughter to the school at the time of the accident, said
Chie Mi Yonashiro, who was sending her daughter to the school at the time of the accident, said, “I was surprised that we were living in such a dangerous place. It was as if a spell had been broken.
She recalled. She is a native of the area, and the Futenma Air Station next door has been a part of her scenery since she was born. The moment she shed tears of relief that her daughter’s life was in danger and that she was safe, her view changed. At least don’t fly over our school,” she said. We have been making repeated requests with fellow parents toward this modest goal, but there has been no clear answer from the government.
Mr. Yonashiro took us on a tour of the area near the site of the accident where the water bottle fell.
The government is saying that if we wait 12 years, Henoko will be completed and Futenma will disappear. What do you think?” When I asked this question, Mr. Yonashiro said at once.
What do you think? It’s still dangerous every day. What do you think? Twelve years from now, the children will be adults. Are you going to let them raise their children under this kind of sky? Why don’t the people in the government try living here once?
The questions overflowed incessantly.
Thoughts” stopping the work
At the press conference, Governor Tamaki also touched on the issue of “soil and sand for landfill” from the southern part of Okinawa Island, which was the site of a fierce battle during the Battle of Okinawa 76 years ago. The government is planning to extract “soil and sand for reclamation” from this area. There are still countless remains of the war dead lying in the mountains and fields here. The bones that lie here are those of Okinawans, U.S. soldiers, and Japanese soldiers who were called up from all over the country.
We must take this as a problem for the entire nation. We must take this issue as a matter for the entire nation, and we must never do anything that would hurt the feelings of the people of Okinawa, the people who experienced the tragic war, or the bereaved families. It cannot be allowed from a humanitarian standpoint.
Governor Tamaki’s words intensified.
Two days after the disapproval was announced, Mr. Takamatsu Gushiken was wielding a small hoe in a cave in the southern part of the prefecture. For nearly 40 years now, he has volunteered to collect the remains of the war dead. The way he lies on the ground and carefully works, it’s as if he is holding the remains in his arms.
On this day, we found a child’s tooth of about 9 years old and a piece of skull.
I wondered if it was a boy or a girl. Why did a child who should have been protected have to be killed?
When I thought about this, I sighed and stopped working. Doesn’t the government think about this? Doesn’t the government ever stop working? Mr. Gushiken said.
Mr. Gushiken said, “Dumping earth and sand containing the remains of the dead into the sea for the construction of the base is a desecration and betrayal of the war dead by the government.
The third hunger strike took place around the Nippon Budokan around the anniversary of the end of World War II. For the third time, he went to the area around the Nippon Budokan around the anniversary of the end of the war, hoping to convey this atrocity to the participants of the National Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead.
He said, “It is inevitable that people do not know about the absurdity of what is happening in Okinawa. You can’t help it if you don’t know about the absurdity of what is happening in Okinawa. Once you know, don’t just walk by the absurdity. That’s the same as standing on the side of the absurd.
Mr. Gushiken asks quietly.
The absurdity of what is happening in Okinawa is not an “Okinawan problem,” as it is often called. It’s a problem that the overwhelming majority of people in the mainland are forcing on the Okinawans. If the people of the mainland remain indifferent, there is no clue to a solution.
Reporting, writing, photography： Takeshi Abe Photo provided by： Ginowan City Hall (2nd photo)