Ok

By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

30 September 2022

Dear US Government re: request for stopping USMC new base construction in Okinawa, Japan

Dear US President Biden, Congressmembers, Senators and other decision makers of the issue, 

 

My name is MASAGATA, a Japanese man living in Tokyo. I used to study at San Francisco State University, where I majored in International Relations. I am now working as a translator using the English knowledge I acquired in the US.

I am writing this letter to urge US government to discontinue and terminate current ongoing landfill construction to build a new US Marine base runways at Camp Schwab, Henoko, Nago city, Okinawa prefecture.

This is the modified version of the letter I sent US Congress members and Senators in a joint Armed Forces Committee which was finalizing National Defense Authority Act three years ago and the letter I wrote last March. I added updated information including Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Taiwan crisis to it.  I visited Okinawa many times and have been engaged in this issue since 2009.

The below is main points I would like to describe in this letter.

  1. What has been going on up until now

 

  1. Locals strongly oppose the new base construction

 

  1. Precious wildlife and ecosystem are threatened

 

  1. Technically, physically infeasible project

 

  1. America is held accountable for this weird construction project

 

  1. Growing doubts about US commitment to Japan’s defense

 

  1. Your Servicemen & women and American residents are facing hostility in Okinawa

 

  1. Russia and China are watching what America is doing in Okinawa

Some of the below photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

----------------------------------------------

1. What has been going on up until now

Okinawa is chain of islands and southernmost prefecture below mainland Japan. The climate is subtropical and blessed with abundance of nature surrounded by coral reef. It is 3 hour-flight from Tokyo and very famous for marine leisure tourism just like Hawaii. In fact Okinawa went through the same path as Hawaii did.

_47383703_japan_quake_okinawa_226.gif

Until the end of 19th century it was an independent kingdom but annexed by mainland force. In 1945 US forces occupied Okinawa and then Okinawa has been occupied until 1972, which was 20 years after the mainland Japan regained sovereignty and was the only place that experienced ground battles within Japan, causing 200,000 civilian casualties during WW II.

The current population of Okinawa prefecture is 1.45 million. 

20210520_171151.jpg

In 1996 both the American and Japanese governments agreed to relocate US Marine Corp. Futenma base in Ginowan City, Okinawa to Camp Schwab to get away from the densely populated area around Futenma, together with some of Futenma capabilities to relocate to Guam in the Pacific.

Camp Schwab is on the coastline of Okinawa island, in an area called Henoko.

The relocation plan includes reclamation of the sea to build a new base that consists of two runways and ports expanding existing facility. Schwab is located in between Henoko coast (left) and Oura Bay (right) as you see in the photo taken on May 20, 2021.

20210520_171230.jpg

The below orange area is the planned reclamation area on Henoko coast. The red lines are runways built on the reclamation area. The red point on the left is local residential area next to the Camp Schwab. 

Henoko.png

2. Locals strongly oppose the new base construction

Since the plan was announced, locals and activists from all over Japan have been protesting the new base construction by holding referendums, supporting candidates of mayoral and gubernatorial election, and municipal assembly members, who oppose the construction, as well as sit-in demonstration at the gate of Camp Schwab and kayaking at the landfilling site as civil disobedience act. Until now, tens of protesters were arrested and injured by police at the gate or coast of Camp Schwab.

okinawa,military

20220316_101025.jpg

In September 2018, Okinawans elected Denny Tamaki as a Governor of Okinawa after death of then governor Takeshi Onaga, who was opposed to the new base construction. Mr. Tamaki succeeded the will of Onaga and won the election. He was formerly a Diet, Japan’s National Assembly member.

His father was a US Marine serviceman stationed in Okinawa and mother was Okinawan native. It was first time in Japan that a racially mixed man was elected as governor of one Prefecture. He proved that Japan is no longer homogeneous population and the nation can tolerate racial diversity. (Next photo is Mr. Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki.

IMG_20180916_110905.jpg

In February, 2019, Okinawa held referendum to ask whether locals approve or oppose the landfill construction at Henoko sea for the construction of a new United States Marine Corps base. The outcome was that 71% of voters oppose the new base construction.

The main reason to oppose the relocation of Futenma is the relocation takes place within Okinawa island, not outside of Okinawa prefecture, which cannot reduce burden on Okinawans' lives.

This year’s September Tamaki’s second gubernatorial election was held and he won again overwhelmingly defeating other two candidates.

After the election, nationwide opinion poll was conducted by KYODO NEWS agency and revealed 57% of Japanese nationals are opposed to proceeding of the construction.

 

3. Precious wildlife and ecosystem are threatened

Many environmental activists also oppose the plan because of the abundance of forms of wildlife that are unique to the area around Camp Schwab.

Jfkdugong.jpg

This photo is of a dugong, an endangered marine mammal that eats grasses in the sea. It is just ridiculous that the nation that protests Japan’s whaling in the Antarctic Sea – and even dolphin hunting in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture that ex-US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, a daughter of late President J.F.Kennedy, was eager to protest – is helping to threaten another marine mammals that live in Japan.

In Oura Bay, the world’s largest, oldest and the northernmost blue coral lives and has continued to grow for 3000 years.

IMG_20180428_140517.jpg

Many new species are discovered in the bay recently. A lot more may be still undiscovered. It is estimated more than 5600 species exist in the Henoko and Oura bay area. That is more than all species in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Great biodiversity for humanity lies in the sea.  (The banner posted at the entrance gate of Camp Schwab where servicemen and women, and workers pass)

IMG_20201026_092829.jpg

US Marine Environment Protection Organization, Mission Blue designated the area as one of “Hope Spots.”

Japan’s First Hope Spot Honors Rare Coral Reefs and Dugong Habitats - Mission Blue (mission-blue.org)

On Henoko coast, the sea is now enclosed and being reclaimed and dugongs and other creatures’ lives are now threatened. Dugongs’ sea grass is found in the current reclaiming area and some of untouched planned areas. They are losing their feeding place.

As for blue coral, reclaimed space can change the sea current and might adversely affect life of the coral. Then what will happen is that your nation will be accused of helping to diminish such wonderful and rare creatures.

Actually, the Japanese Ministry of Defense carried out an environmental assessment in which it was claimed that there were no dugongs in the sea. But the environmental organizations such as WWF and The Nature Conservation Society of Japan claim that the MoD’s assessment was wrong and the organizations’ own research found clear traces confirming the existence of dugongs. Later, Okinawa’s local newspaper revealed the news that the MoD was aware of the finding but had covered it up.

Because of these facts, the petition to the White House to halt landfilling of the sea was launched in 2018.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-landfill-henoko-oura-bay-until-referendum-can-be-held-okinawa

(Stop the landfill of Henoko / Oura Bay until a referendum can be held in Okinawa Created by R.K. on December 08, 2018)

More than 200000 signatures were collected in two months.

The petition campaign was widely spread by a famous fashion model and TV personality, Rola (Mixed race woman between Japanese and Bangladesh), who posted the petition campaign on her Instagram page. She was an environmental activist.

20190107_183511.jpg

The White House has not yet responded to the petition officially. 

Since this year’s spring, another bad progress has been made as part of the reclamation project. One of piers to build on the sea for the reclamation was extended so that it is blocking one of major tidal currents to the bay.

As shown in the below photo taken on 12 September 2022 from the airplane, the red circle is pier K8 which has been extended. The pink circle area is the construction site of River Flow Change to the sea. That river, called Bisha-gawa pours cold water into the bay, which cools down the temperature of the sea water so that many unique species can survive.

K8_202209hilited2.jpg

Both the tidal current and the river flow to the bay are significant to keep the good environment for the wildlife in the bay. But these constructions destroy the environment.

20220907_154310.jpg

Pier K8 viewed from River Flow Change construction site (Above)

The construction must be stopped immediately. No time for the wildlife and ecosystem to wait .

 

4. Technically, physically infeasible project

There are technical issues revealing infeasibility of the construction project as follows.

Active faults are found down below planned construction site of runways. If that is the case in California, the project wouldn’t be permitted.

Around planned construction site of runways there are buildings higher than US military aviation standard, flying helicopters or ospreys there might cause collision with these buildings, similar situation to Futenma Air Base in Ginowan city. (The below photo is Futenma base and its surrounding area from observatory site in the city.)

futennma.jpg

The buildings include school and its dormitory at which young students attend classes or reside. No plan of relocation is announced although a power transmission tower next to the building was already planned to relocate from that site. (The below photo is a local town next to Camp Schwab.) It is known over 350 buildings are placed above the height limitation for the planned runways. It is not only dangerous for locals but for pilots.

(Photo taken in Henoko district near the sea coast)

IMG_20180428_122112.jpg

Illustration of how danger the flying zone of the planned new runways, excerpt from the local newspaper, Okinawa Times, the red line is the supposed height limitation for the runways. 

Screenshot_20220322-080340_Chrome.jpg

Geological survey conducted in the sea to landfill indicates sea ground is too soft to pile soil on like mayonnaise, which consumes more budget and time to landfill so the construction period should be much longer than expected like 20 years from now.

Or even more because the very soft ground exists in the layer of 90 meter below sea level but modern technology allows contractors to solidate the ground only up to 70 meter deep.

The below photo was taken in January 2018.

P1100703.JPG

The below was taken on 12 September, 2022. 

K8_20220912.jpg

Although the landfilling already started in Heneoko sea side area (left side), but at this point only one third of all the planned area is landfilled and even that one third is not fully landfilled yet. It was filled up to 3 meters high but still requires another 4 meters, which would take at least another 3 years and the other two thirds on Oura bay side (right side of the photo) have not started at all due to the technical issues related to very soft ground under the sea. Henoko side is shallow but Oura bay side is very deep.

okinawa,military

Even after 3 years passed since landfilling started, only less than 10 % of total amount of soil was used. 

The below photo is Henoko coast side landfill. Only 3 meter of planned 7 meter is filled up. (Photo taken in January 2022)

okinawa,military

This is just a little bit over the beach. One can easily walk in the water to the reventment.  (Photo taken in September 2022)

okinawa,military

The below photo (March 2022) is Henoko coast side landfill. Only 3 meter of planned 7 meter is filled up.

Screenshot_20220107-154613_Photos.jpg

It is not too late to get back to the original landscape like one when the reclamation wasn't done as a next photo taken in April 2017 shows.

IMG_20170413_120113.jpg

Initially that bigger Oura area, was supposed to be landfilled first but it was found even piers cannot withstand minimum level of earthquake. MoD knew this fact in 2015 but had not revealed it until 2017.

20210517_143834.jpg

Even US GAO (Government Accountability Office) recently and the Washington base think tank CSIS recently reported Henoko landfill construction is difficult to implement due to the technical issues.

It is possible that the project is terminated halfway for some reason but irreversible damages would be left together with grudge from locals. Some portion of the budget for relocation of Marine Corp. to Camp Schwab and Guam is spared by US Government. That means this project wastes not only Japanese tax payers’ money but Americans as well.

It has been done for the interests of the few. The few, you might know, are certain businesses and government people who want some gains from the project. One of major contractors of the project is Taisei Kensetsu Corporation, where third son of the former Prime Minister, Suga, works. Typical "Pork Barrel" project." They are proceeding this just to make it "fait accompli." 

As long as the construction goes on, the contractors can gain profits until the termination. For the Marines, the current Futenma base can be used as long as possible. While the construction goes on, irreversible damage on the environment is being expanded.

 

5 . America is held accountable for this weird construction project

You might say this issue is something to be handled by the Japanese government, and that it is not the responsibility of the US military. But that sounds very hypocritical. The US military is the one that uses the facility and up until now involved in designing of new runways and annexed facilities. The US government can stop that project and find another relocation site outside Okinawa.

If the US continues to attribute this to the Japanese government, it is just like what Japanese conservative politicians say when it comes to the “Comfort Women” issue: “The Japanese Imperial Army was not responsible for kidnapping women in Asia for sexual slavery for soldiers during the war period in the early 20th century, it was what outsourced local brothels did.” The US Congress disavowed such argument and made a resolution to demand that the Japanese government apologize for former comfort women in 2007.

 

6. Growing Doubts about US commitment to Japan’s defense

In fact, the US military presence in Okinawa and even nationwide is becoming nothing but troublesome. More of us know that the US military presence no longer functions as defense or deterrence like in the Cold War era. China is said to be a new threat but we know that US-China relations have become more vital for your nation since China sometimes owns more US treasury bonds and buys more US goods than Japan does. China has become a larger economy than Japan these days.

We can easily predict that the US would not help Japan even if China and Japan became involved in a dispute for some reason such as the territorial right to the Senkaku islands located in between sea border of Japan and China. The US cannot send troops to assist Japan fighting against the Chinese military because such action might cause great losses for your national interests. China also played a big role in negotiating with North Korea. China is vital for US foreign policy.

Current ongoing crisis in Ukraine revealed US reluctance to help its ally. US announced that they would not send troops to help Ukraine from Russian invasion although US signed the security assurance memorandum in 1994 and just before the invasion started, US claimed that it would not stop Ukraine from joining NATO members. Ukraine military once did joint military exercise with the US military so Ukraine expected that US and NATO allies would send troops and set no-fly zone over Ukraine like they did in Yugoslavia but such thing never happened.

US and NATO allies could fight in such affair if they were willing to even though they have no biding treaty with Ukraine. During 1990’s US and NATO allies implemented air strikes in Kosovo without a relevant treaty. 

Military experts and even former US military officials say that the biggest reason that the US military forces stay in Japan is to cut cost of their own because Japan provides host nation support fund, which we call “Sympathy Budget” that accounts for more than 70% of total expense for the US bases in Japan. There are more than 130 facilities of US military in Japan. Most of the troops are stationed at 30 facilities in Okinawa prefecture that accounts for 1 % of total of Japan’s territory and population.

During Vietnam War, it was a transit point to transport soldiers, military weapons and equipment. Now there is no strategic importance. How many of US congressmen and senators knows Okinawa? Is this place worth keeping bases in?

Recently China increased military capability significantly so Okinawa, where several major bases are concentrated, now have become very vulnerable to the attack from China. Okinawa is obviously within China’s missile range. Once the dispute occurs, China can shoot missiles to destroy runways in Okinawa before any planes takes off. Military strategists claim it is better to disperse bases in Asia-Pacific in order to counter the military threat from China. Eggs in a bucket can easily be broken. China has more than 30 air bases for long-range fighter-jets around Taiwan while US military has only two, Kadena in Okinawa and Yokota, in Tokyo.

Taiwan crisis recently highlighted and intensely provoked by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of the Representatives proved the US military presence is just nothing but troubles to the East Asia.

Pelosi's visit to Taiwan were thought to be for upcoming congressional election campaign. Soon after her visit, China conducted the military drills on the sea around the Taiwan island, including the sea near one of the Okinawa islands, one of Japan’s Economic Exclusive Zones, then Okinawan fishers could not sail during the drill losing income.

Unlike the case in Ukraine, both the US and Japan cannot accuse China of occupying Taiwan since the two nations promised China with “One China Policy” in exchange for normalizing diplomacy. China is our close neighbor. We do not want to be retaliated by China for assisting Taiwan, in order to follow US twisted foreign policy. Japan’s economy is in fact, more dependent on China than the US. Letting US military use the bases within Japan to assist Taiwan is detrimental to our national interests.

In addition, like Russia, China possesses nuclear arms. As for what is going on in Ukraine, US could not get involved in the war against Russia because it wants to avoid the nuclear war.

We are sure that's the same case for the war against China.

Deploying your military so much in our country, especially Okinawa is just causing growing distrust against your country. I believe the Okinawa issue presents the perfect timing for your nation to rethink its military deployment in Japan in order to improve the relationship between the two nations. Constructing a base on reclaimed land in the Henoko sea is the worst possible idea.

 

The Image of America is getting worse lately

US military presence functions to apply American influence on our nation. Yes, it did work that way but you really have to know this may be working negatively. The image of your country itself is no longer positive like in the past. In other words, the US is no longer a powerful land of dreams, nor is it any longer a role model for us.

One example of this can be seen in a recent best-selling book on your country’s poverty issue. The title of the book is “Rupo Hinkontaikoku America” (Report, Poverty Superpower, America). It was written by a Japanese journalist, TSUTSUMI Mika. The book describes how Americans are struggling with poverty in a plutonomy society and explains how Japan should not follow suit.

We know that a lot of young Marine troops stationed there come from poor families that cannot afford college education and have problems like domestic violence. They join the Marines by system, so called, Poverty Draft. That is why they cause troubles with Okinawa locals.

In addition, four years of Trump administration proved disparity among your nation. Although Trump lost in last year’s presidential election. 74 million Americans voted him, record number among sitting presidents. His comments during the administration delivered very negative images of America to Japanese citizens. We expect someone like him would be reelected in the near future, which is disappointing me, who learnt decency of America.

Trump once claimed Japan should pay 4 times of the current amount of “Sympathy Budget (host national support)”, which is unacceptable - showed America’s unwillingness of defending Japan.

 

7. Your Servicemen & women and American residents are facing hostility in Okinawa

In September 2019, US Marines faced apparent resistance from locals and activists. citizens blocked port entry of US Marine vehicles carrying a boat for training. The port was located in Motobu town, 30 minute drive from Henoko and the boat was supposed to be shipped to nearby island.

IMG_20190917_103714.jpg

IMG_20190917_091100.jpg

Young military servicemen and women had to hear yelling from protesters and waited inside the vehicle for hours without air condition. The Marine vehicle was trying to enter the port to unload the boat to use for training on the sea.

IMG_20190917_121742.jpg

Even port workers were standing at the entrance as human shield. The workers oppose military use of the port because they want to allow only civilian use. After 10 hours of sit-in protest, Marine vehicle with the boat on a trailer had to leave the port to go back to Camp Schwab. 

IMG_20190917_110906.jpg

Recently I met an American woman who manages a cheese shop “Little Greek Kitchen” at Plaza House Shopping Center in Okinawa. She was interviewed by Japan’s national television station NHK, and said that she did not want her shop to be recognized as US military affiliated because reputation of US military has been very bad. She welcomes anyone regardless of nationality or what organization they belong to.

20210513_164415.jpg

I, myself have begun to think the oppression by the US military is due in part to America’s racial prejudice against Okinawans and Japanese nationals. Like the very old man who was selling his books of autobiography at the shopping mall as shown in the below photo, whom I met last year’s May, who was from Mississippi and settled down in Okinawa since 1960’s and prided himself on hiring many Okinawans in his business – claimed that in his younghood before he came to Japan, segregation in his homeland was not a problem until Yankees came in and the film “Mississippi Burning” was exaggerated.

20210513_175401.jpg

I, myself have experiences of racial discrimination while I was a college student in the US, 1990’s. America is in fact, white dominated racist society. That is why Trump was elected. People other than white are easily generalized and discriminated.

At the Camp Schwab gate, every day they have to see the protesters’ civil disobedience act and in many times being yelled at and called names. They never feel welcome. I do not think they feel honored to serve Marine Corp. as long as they are stationed in Okinawa.

20210325_121958.jpg

IMG_20190607_083911.jpg

Just next to Camp Schwab personnel entry gate is construction vehicle gate where every weekday, protestors sit-in to block the construction vehicles so that less vehicles could get in and delay the construction.

20210416_150339-PANO.jpg

In Abu and Shiokawa ports located on the opposite side of the island, where soils for the reclamation is being transported from nearby mountains to Henoko, local protestors stand in front of trucks to slow the work.

20220317_171220 (1).jpg

Do you think this situation creates healthy relationship among US, Japan and Okinawa? Proceeding of such unnecessary and infeasible construction are just making things worse. It should be halted immediately for the friendship or for the time being, construction must be stopped for the review.

Current Japanese government is willing to continue this but the opposing parties announced the termination of the construction if they regain the governance of Japan since the local protest is growing bigger than ever and the construction is found to be infeasible. Even a former Defense Minister, Nakatani in the current ruling party claimed it should be stopped.

Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic delays the construction schedule in addition to the local resistance. In April 2020 the construction was halted for 2 months because the workers got infected. Camp Schwab service personnel got infected as well. More budget for the pandemic relief is required. We are meeting with the serious budget shortage due to the pandemic as well as oil and commodity price surge caused by the war in Ukraine.

 

8. Russia and China are watching what America is doing in Okinawa

The end of last year when new recruits came to Okinawa bases including Camp Schwab and they went out of the camp without wearing masks on their faces, the infection cases grew rapidly within the Okinawa island. Okinawa had to restrict business activities which damaged its local economy.

At that time, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman claimed US is responsible for the widespread infection so US should not lead COVID-19 counter-measures as it prides themselves to be. (Photo taken near the Camp Schwab fence on 27 December 2021, when mask wearing was mandated in Okinawa, actually still madated now)

20211227_141308 (1).jpg

Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned this Henoko new base construction issue in December 2018 and claimed doubts about Japan’s territorial sovereignty on northern territorial islands just below Sakhalin which currently Russia administered because the construction has proceeded even though local governor and local residents opposed the plan.

 If Japan is a democratic state, that shouldn’t happen. Russia worried if the islands were returned to Japan, US military bases might be placed just near the Japan-Russia boarder. Thanks to that, the territory was never brought back due to Japan’s too much dependency on US military.

Putin just recently brought up history of nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as America's inhumane acts. He claimed that Japan should recall this attack as America's inhumane attack on Japan. Russians are interested in the Henoko issue so when the referendum was held in February 2019, journalists of Interfax Press came to Okinawa to report what is going on. I was interviewed by them and was asked why Japanese conservatives support such US military base construction despite their nationalism. (The below photo is the Russian journalists interviewing beforementioned White House petition campaigner, Rob Kajiwara, Naha city, Okinawa, February 2019)

Screenshot_20220104-123925_Photos.jpg

Last May I was interviewed by a Chinese journalist from Shanghai. Chinese are very interested in this issue to know how US and Japanese governments treat Okinawans for the Henoko new base construction issue as well as Russians are. 

US claimed that democracy is best system for humanity. So authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China are not good. But in Okinawa US seems to prove the reverse. As things like go on, these nations would bring up Okinawa issue to counter US appeal of how great democracy is.

20220105_125344.jpg

As for practical solutions, I recommend your organization to review a proposal by a private think tank, The New Diplomacy Initiatives (http://www.nd-initiative.org/en/), which suggests removal of US Marine bases from Okinawa but instead, establishing joint Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Corp. with Japan’s Self-Defense Force equipped with high speed transport vessels, which rotates around East Asia. It is cost-effective and able to contribute to security of the region more realistically.

 

Rationality is what Americans value most when it comes to policy-making. I hope US make a very rational decision on this issue for the friendship between the two democratic nations. Such infeasible and stupid construction is the most irrational thing to do in history. 

 

Sincerely,

P.S. Permit me for writing some awkward or grammatically incorrect phrases since I am not a native speaker of English.

I recently wrote a novel based on this issue. Please read the story so that you can feel like being in Henoko. 

Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes

 

12 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 1 "Children Who Don't Know about Wars"

The novel is based on this issue and my own experience.

 

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Issue? What was the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?

 

A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.

 

Translation of this Japanese novel

 

                                                                                                                       

August 2018

Naomi Yamaguchi was walking on the streets at night in the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture in a slightly drunken state. She had just come out drinking at a bar. Coming from Tokyo, she didn't seem to be welcome here. Not because she was from Tokyo, but because she was part of an activity that wasn't welcomed by the residents of the area.

Naomi was a singer from Tokyo. She was twenty-six years old. Although she was born and raised in Yokohama, she had lived and worked as a singer who sang while playing guitar and piano in live houses and cabarets. She liked to sing since she was a child. She’s been learning singing seriously since kindergarten and piano and guitar since elementary school.

She has overwhelmed the surroundings with her outstanding sense of sound and vocal volume. Naomi was said to be talented. In addition, she was a beautiful woman who could even become an actress and model that she recognizes by herself and others. In addition to her work as a singer, she also made money by modeling for magazines and advertisements.

She traveled to Europe for about three years to learn singing. She stayed in England for about a year. While studying traditional music such as opera, canzones, chansons and Scottish folk songs, she was a singer with a wide range of genres and sang songs such as contemporary rock and ballads. She loved learning and singing any song in the world.

Naomi was a singer who sold beautiful voices, but she was an unknown singer who worked at ordinary live houses and cabarets. Then came a big opportunity for her. The manager of an entertainment production company who visited the live house approached her about signing a contract. It promised to debut on a TV show with big sponsors and in music sales. Not only as a singer, but also because of her good looks, he recommended her about being able to work as an actress.

She got on it because it was a very attractive opportunity, but it was a trap. The manager was a middle-aged man who looked like a con, but he was really a con man. He invited her to talk about the contract at a bar in Shinjuku Kabukicho, Tokyo's downtown, and took her to a private room in the back of the bar, where he let her drink more and more alcohol. When Naomi started to get drunk, he suddenly hugged and kissed her.

She screamed loudly, but she was drunk, and caught up in the couch that she couldn’t resist. Just when she thought she was in a helpless situation, an unexpected savior appeared. A tall young man kicked the door of the private room, pulled the manager away from her, and punched him in the face. The manager collapsed to the floor and fainted.

He saved her from the brink of crisis. It was as if she had been saved by a knight on a white horse, and she fell in love with the young man at once.

The young man's name was Genjiro Shimabukuro. He was a young man from Okinawa prefecture. He was a graduate student a little younger than her. He has a fierce countenance. He hoped to become a lawyer while attending a law school in Tokyo.

Naomi wanted to do something to thank him for his help, and Genjiro asked her if she could go to Okinawa with him. Genjiro occasionally returns to his hometown of Okinawa to join the anti-U.S. military base struggle. There, he said, she could use her talent as a singer. Naomi was of course happy to oblige.

Naomi had never been to the Okinawa island before, but she was excited. Speaking of Okinawa, Naomi had a strong image of a resort island. She could go there with a young man like a knight on a white horse.

On a plane from Haneda Airport, Genjiro Shimabukuro and Naomi Yamaguchi arrived in Okinawa, a midsummer coral island.

Genjiro taught her history of Okinawa as a native man. Some of the facts were overlapped with the knowledge she already gained in history classes in schools.

Okinawa had been an independent kingdom until late 19th century like Hawaii in US but the kingdom was annexed to the mainland Japan. In 1945, when Japan surrenderred to the US, Okinawa was occupied by the US military and had been under US control until 1972. 

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

Genjiro was from Ginowan city of Okinawa Prefecture, where Futenma Air Base is. He took Naomi around the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, which occupied the land in the middle of Ginowan City, surrounded by wire mesh and explained the anti-base activities he was involved in from the observation deck of the park where the entire Futenma base could be seen.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

Futenma Air Base was built after the war by the U.S. military confisticating private lands. Helicopters and aircraft take off and landing make terrible noise, and the surrounding area is a densely populated urban area. It is also very dangerous when an accident occured.

In 1996, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to return the land, but with terms attached. The idea was to build a base with the same function in another location on the same main island of Okinawa.

For residents living in Ginowan, this would lead to the elimination of the noise and risk of accidents, but for the people of Okinawa Prefecture as a whole, the burden of the base would remain unchanged. It is not fair to think that more than 70% of all U.S. military base and facility area in Japan, are placed in Okinawa which accounted for only about 1% of the total area of Japan.

The majority of Okinawans insisted that if the Futenma Air Base was to be relocated, it should be outside of Okinawa Prefecture. But the Japan government continued to adhere to the policy of relocation within the prefecture.

The relocation site was determined to be Henoko on the east coast of Nago City, located in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa. It was home to Camp Schwab, a U.S. Marine Corps training base. It was a base with a beach facing the coast, and the idea was to reclaim the beach and build two runways.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

The Henoko area around Camp Schwab had far fewer people than Futenma Base surrounding area and it was like a village lined with private houses and small shops, and it had the atmosphere of an idyllic country town. Compared to Tokyo, it was much quieter. She went to Henoko with Genjiro. It was about an hour drive from Futenma. It was a different world for Naomi, a city woman.

It sounded reasonable to claim that it was safer than Futenma because it was not a densely packed and the village was facing the coast, but in fact it had other various problems. Even though there were fewer people than Futenma, there were people living there. More than 1,000 people had taken up residence around Camp Schwab.

The Henoko sea, which would be reclaimed in the area, was home to rare coral reefs and the endangered marine mammal dugong. There are many problems from the viewpoint of nature conservation.

More recently, a problem had emerged that it might be impossible to complete even if the land was reclaimed because of the deep soft ground in the reclaimed sea area. In that case, it was impossible for Futenma Air Base to be returned. For these reasons, Okinawa Prefecture revoked the approval of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the prefectural authority, for a landfill, which was the owner of the construction work. However, the Ministry of Defense has restarted the construction with the court invalidating the prefecture’s revocation.

The installation of seawalls to reclaim the coast of Henoko is progressing steadily. The sea was surrounded by a seawall wharf and sediment was poured into it.

After the relocation plan was announced, people from inside and outside Okinawa Prefecture gathered in Henoko and campaigned against the construction.

From the beach, where the revetment for reclamation could be seen, tents had been set up to monitor the construction. She looked out to sea from the tent.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

It was a truly beautiful sea that shined in the light green color typical of Okinawa. The sea was separated by a seawall wharf. The beach is fenced on the border with the base.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

When constructing a seawall or injecting sediment, activists took kayaks from the beach to the construction site at sea to protest.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

On the road side of the Camp Schwab entrance gate on the land side, a larger tent was set up to accommodate hundreds of people. From there, they could monitor the construction vehicles entering the base, and when the construction vehicles entered, they sat in front of the gate and took action to prevent them.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

Naomi looked at the Camp Schwab surrounded by wire mesh. Is this what a U.S. military base were? There were also U.S. military bases on the mainland Japan. Like Yokota Air Base in Tokyo and the naval base in Yokosuka, but these were located in the suburbs and were not conspicuous.

She was amazed at the sight of the line-up of wire mesh fence, as if intimidating to a small island like Okinawa. While driving from Futenma Air Base to Henoko, she saw a wire mesh fences one after another. It was a base island.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

Naomi was to perform her singing proudly in the tent in front of the gate. After making speech to nearly a hundred activists gathered in the tent, Genjiro introduced her and she responded to a request to sing a song about the peace movement against the bases of war.

She brought a guitar. She was asked if she could sing a song about peace, and then suddenly came up with Gilleaux's "戦争を知らない子供たち, Senso Wo Shiranai Kodomotachi (Children Who Don't Know War)".

The lyrics were something like, "We are the generation born after the war, that we grew up not knowing war, so we are children who know only peaceful times and do not know about wars."

Since the song was released in 1971, it seems that the song reflects an era in which the younger generation did not know about the war but adults still had strong memories of the 2nd world war. Nowadays, even adults did not know about war.

But inside the wire mesh fence, youngsters trained for war and wage war all over the world. More recently, it had also sent troops to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The base for training such soldiers was Camp Schwab. If Futenma Air Base was relocated, it would become a base for a complete battle and attack position.

Naomi's singing voice impressed the audience. Everyone clapped and cheered, "Lovely, thank you." She was glad she came. It was a different atmosphere from the live house and cabaret customers.

That evening, Naomi and Genjiro went to a private inn in Henoko where activists from outside the island were staying. She stayed there, and Genjiro would drive to his parents' house in Ginowan tonight and drive back tomorrow. Naomi said to Genjiro.

"Hey, I've come to Okinawa for a while, so I want to try scuba diving, and surfing. Wiil you take me somewhere to do these tomorrow and you should know some good places because it's your home island."

Instantly, Genjiro's face changed. It turned angry look.

"Did you come to Okinawa with such a feeling? Activities are serious and desperate! Not a leisure. I'm leaving. I don't know about tomorrow. Suit yourself."

He said and quickly left the inn.

Naomi felt like she was pushed aside. She was stunned. Just when she thought she had been lured by the knight on the white horse, she was shoved away by the knight.

Maybe she was being sloppy. Speaking of Okinawa, she came here with the feeling of a resort vacation. She knew he was passionate about the anti-base movement, but she was not sure because she only just gotten to know him. Naomi was outraged that she had just learned about the Henoko base issue and that it was impossible for her to know everything about this issue immediately.

After having dinner at a private inn, she decided to take a walk around the town of Henoko at night. She was trying to change her mood. Unlike Shinjuku in Tokyo, it was really quiet. It's the middle of summer, but the nights were much cooler than in Tokyo. Is it because of the sea breeze? But it's quiet and dark, and there's nothing but street lamps or private house lights. Isn't there somewhere to drink? Even if there was no cabaret, she searched around for a bar or something.

She entered a bar about a three-minute walk from the inn. There was only one house. There was a small electric sign, so it looked like a bar where locals gathered. She went inside. There was a counter, and it seems that a middle-aged woman was a master.

There were already elderly male and female guests sitting there. She heard chatter. He had an accent in his language and was identified as a local.

Naomi asked, "Can I order a beer?" "Yes, please," the female master replied, pulling out a large mug of draught beer. It was a local Orion draft beer.

After a while, a customer at the counter spoke to Naomi.

"Aren't you the one who sang in the tent in front of the gate at lunchtime?"

said an old man.

"Yes, that's right."

"So you're a protestor of the base, are you from the Naichi?"

said an elderly woman.

"Naichi?" asked Naomi, startled by the unfamiliar words.

"Oh, the mainland" said the man.

"Yes, I'm from Tokyo."

When she answered, the atmosphere in the store suddenly changed.

"Oh god, you're coming from far away to do something, and we're in trouble."

"Are you not opposed to the construction of a new U.S. military base?"

Then the woman sitting beside him replied.

"We've lived with U.S. bases all our lives. We used to have a lot of U.S. soldiers, so there were a lot of bars open around here.

Now, the number of U.S. soldiers who come to train has decreased much to the point where they can meet the needs at the facility inside the Schwab base, but if a new U.S. military base is built, many soldiers and their families will live there, and we will also be able to make money.

We are annoyed that people say they are against the base. I want you to know that!"

Naomi was surprised to hear such things. She had already learnt the fact that there used to be a lot of bars for U.S. troops. While driving from the tent on the beach to the gate on land daytime, she passed through the village of Henoko, and at that time she saw a building with a large Stars and Stripes painted all over the wall of a two-story building with no window.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

Picture of the Stars and Stripes in a building was like a bar billboard. It was like a painting that seemed to lure American soldiers, but the painting was faded as if it had not been used for a long time. In the surrounding area, as the man said, there were several buildings that looked like the remains of a bar that was once open. Traces of a flashy exterior were seen, but the houses were already abandoned.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

"When was the past you are talking about?" asked Naomi.

"I think it was from before Okinawa reversion to Japan (1972)" to the end of that war."

said an old man.

"That war?"

"It was a big war that the U.S. was having before you were born, and a lot of American soldiers came to Schwab for training and dropped a lot of money."

What kind of war was it in what era? What was the war that America was at before I was born? Naomi thought in her head.

"So, go back mainland and don’t stir this town anymore."

The man said, and the old lady at the counter, the female master all nodded, and the mood turned grim.

Naomi got upset. After downing the beer, she put the money on the counter and quickly left the bar. Is this how they treat customers? Following Genjiro, she was treated badly twice overnight.

The intention to change her mood resulted in even worse.

There seemed no other bar where she could drink, and it was her nature to drink as much as possible at times like this. Then she wandered around the streets of the quiet and dark Henoko village.

She arrived at a building. This was the Stars and Stripes building she noticed in the daytime. In the dim light, she could see a wall of Stars and Stripes paintings, with a bar-like entrance door. However, she thought that it was a place like other buildings around there, that were no longer open and were already abandoned for demolition.

history,war,vietnam,okinawa

It was ridiculous to expect a fancy bar to drink freely in a country town like this. Naomi thought she had to go back to the inn. At that moment, a sound was heard from the Stars and Stripes building. She could hear the sound of people gathering and faintly the music.

Oh, she thought it might be open for business, so she opened the front door. The door was opened. The inside was crowded. There were a lot of tall young men.

People drinking at the counter, sitting at tables, and standing in empty spaces. Oh, they were all white men, and they all spoke in English. Oh, weren't they American soldiers? The bar was full of energy.

So, why were the American soldiers from Camp Schwab gathered here? Wasn't that different story from what the local people at the bar she went in were talking about earlier ?

Well, okay, Naomi thought she would get a drink there, and headed to the counter. In addition to the counter and table seating, the bar had a stage for live performance. The ceiling was high and there were big electric lights like chandeliers hanging.

It was gorgeous and had a nice atmosphere. Interior was a far cry from a hazy appearance from outside. Music was playing. It came from a jukebox? There was a record inside, and one put a coin in it to play music. Even such antique thing was placed. The song just playing was one of the oldies. Naomi knew this. It was Platters' "The Great Pretenders."


Naomi was surprised that such a great bar was open in Henoko.

 

To be continued to Chapter 2.

27 March 2022

Dear US Government re: request for stopping USMC new base construction in Okinawa, Japan

Update version of the below letter is posted on September 30, 2022 with latest information of this issue.

Read this post

Dear US President Biden, Congressmembers, Senators and other decision makers of the issue, 

 

My name is MASAGATA, a Japanese man living in Tokyo. I used to study at San Francisco State University, where I majored in International Relations. I am now working as a translator using the English knowledge I acquired in the US.

 

I am writing this letter to urge US government to terminate current ongoing landfill construction to build a new US Marine base runways at Camp Schwab, Henoko, Nago city, Okinawa prefecture.

 

This is the modified version of the letter I sent US Congress members and Senators in a joint Armed Forces Committee which was finalizing National Defense Authority Act three years ago. I added updated information including Russian invasion of Ukraine to it.

 

The below is main points I would like to describe in this letter.

 

1 What has been going on up until now

 

2 Locals oppose the new base construction

 

3 Wildlife and ecosystem are threatened

 

4 Technically, physically infeasible project

 

5 This construction might deteriorate friendship between the two nations

 

6 Your Servicemen & women and American residents are facing hostility in Okinawa

 

7 Russia and China are watching what America is doing in Okinawa

Some of the below photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

 

 ----------------------------------------------

 

1 What has been going on up until now

 

Okinawa is chain of islands and southernmost prefecture below mainland Japan. The climate is subtropical and blessed with abundance of nature surrounded by coral reef. It is 3 hour-flight from Tokyo and very famous for marine leisure tourism just like Hawaii. In fact Okinawa went through the same path as Hawaii did.

okinawa,military

Until the end of 19th century it was an independent kingdom but annexed by mainland force. In 1945 US forces occupied Okinawa and then Okinawa has been occupied until 1972, which was 20 years after the mainland Japan regained sovereignty and was the only place that experienced ground battles within Japan, causing 200,000 civilian casualties during WW II.

okinawa,military

In 1996 both the American and Japanese governments agreed to relocate US Marine Corp. Futenma base in Ginowan City, Okinawa to Camp Schwab to get away from the densely populated area around Futenma, together with some of Futenma capabilities to relocate to Guam in the Pacific.

 

Camp Schwab is on the coastline of Okinawa island, in an area called Henoko.

 

The relocation plan includes reclamation of the sea to build a new base that consists of two runways and ports expanding existing facility. Schwab is located in between Henoko coast (left) and Oura Bay (right) as you see in the photo taken on May 20, 2021.

Okinawa, Military

 

2 Locals oppose the new base construction

 

Since the plan was announced, locals and activists from all over Japan have been protesting the new base construction by holding referendums, supporting candidates of mayoral and gubernatorial election, and municipal assembly members, who oppose the construction, as well as sit-in demonstration at the gate of Camp Schwab and kayaking at the landfilling site as civil disobedience act. Until now, tens of protesters were arrested and injured by police at the gate or coast of Camp Schwab.,

Okinawa, Military

Okinawa, Military

In September2018, Okinawans elected Denny Tamaki as a Governor of Okinawa after death of then governor Takeshi Onaga, who was opposed to the new base construction. Mr. Tamaki succeeded the will of Onaga and won the election. He was formerly a Diet, Japan’s National Assembly member.

 

His father was a US Marine serviceman stationed in Okinawa and mother was Okinawan native. It was first time in Japan that a racially mixed man was elected as governor of one Prefecture. He proved that Japan is no longer homogeneous population and the nation can tolerate diversity.

Okinawa, Military

In February, 2019, Okinawa held referendum to ask whether locals approve or oppose the landfill construction at Henoko sea for the construction of a new United States Marine Corps base. The outcome was that 71% of voters oppose the new base construction.

 

The main reason to oppose the relocation of Futenma is the relocation takes place within Okinawa island, not outside of Okinawa prefecture, which cannot reduce burden on Okinawans' lives.

 

3 Wildlife and ecosystem are threatened

 

Many environmental activists also oppose the plan because of the abundance of forms of wildlife that are unique to the area around Camp Schwab.

Okinawa, Military

This photo is of a dugong, an endangered marine mammal that eats grasses in the sea. It is just ridiculous that the nation that protests Japan’s whaling in the Antarctic Sea – and even dolphin hunting in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture that ex-US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy was eager to protest – is helping to threaten another marine mammals that live in Japan.

 

In Oura Bay, the world’s largest, oldest and the northernmost blue coral lives and has continued to grow for 3000 years.

Okinawa, Military

Many new species are discovered in the bay recently. A lot more may be still undiscovered. It is estimated more than 5600 species exist in the Henoko and Oura bay area. That is more than all species found in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. 

 

Great biodiversity for humanity lies in the sea.

okinawa,military

(The banner posted at the entrance gate of Camp Schwab where servicemen and women, and workers pass)

US Marine Environment Protection Organization, Mission Blue designated the area as one of “Hope Spots.”

 

Japan’s First Hope Spot Honors Rare Coral Reefs and Dugong Habitats - Mission Blue (mission-blue.org)

 

On Henoko coast, the sea is now enclosed and being reclaimed and dugongs and other creatures’ lives are now threatened. Dugongs’ sea grass is found in the current reclaiming area and some of untouched planned areas. They are losing their feeding place.

 

As for blue coral, reclaimed space can change the sea current and might adversely affect life of the coral. Then what will happen is that your nation will be accused of helping to diminish such wonderful and rare creatures.

 

Actually, the Japanese Ministry of Defense carried out an environmental assessment in which it was claimed that there were no dugongs in the sea. But the environmental organizations such as WWF and The Nature Conservation Society of Japan claim that the MoD’s assessment was wrong and the organizations’ own research found clear traces confirming the existence of dugongs. Later, Okinawa’s local newspaper revealed the news that the MoD was aware of the finding but had covered it up.

 

Because of these facts, the petition to the White House to halt landfilling of the sea was launched in 2018.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-landfill-henoko-oura-bay-until-referendum-can-be-held-okinawa

(Stop the landfill of Henoko / Oura Bay until a referendum can be held in Okinawa Created by R.K. on December 08, 2018)

 

More than 200000 signatures were collected in two months.

The petition campaign was launched by a Hawaiian Okinawan musician, Rob Kajiwara but later was widespread by a famous fashion model and TV personality, Rola (Mixed race woman between Japanese and Bangladesh), who posted the petition campaign on her Instagram page. She was an environmental activist.

okinawa,military

 

4 Technically, physically infeasible project

 

There are technical issues revealing infeasibility of the construction project as follows.

 

Active faults are found down below planned construction site of runways. If that is the case in California, the project wouldn’t be permitted.

 

Around planned construction site of runways there are buildings higher than US military aviation standard, flying helicopters or ospreys there might cause collision with these buildings, similar situation to Futenma Air Base in Ginowan city. (The below photo is Futenma base and its surrounding area from observatory site in the city.)

okinawa,military

The buildings include school and its dormitory at which young students attend classes or reside. No plan of relocation is announced although a power transmission tower next to the building was already planned to relocate from that site. (The below photo is a local town next to Camp Schwab.) It is known over 350 buildings are placed above the height limitation for the planned runways. It is not only dangerous for locals but for pilots.

(Photo taken in Henoko district near the sea coast)

okinawa,military

Illustration of how danger the flying zone of the planned new runways, excerpt from the local newspaper, Okinawa Times, the red line is the supposed height limitation for the runways.  

okinawa,military

Geological survey conducted in the sea to landfill indicates sea ground is too soft to pile soil on like mayonnaise, which consumes more budget and time to landfill so the construction period should be much longer than expected like 20 years from now.

Or even more because the very soft ground exists in the layer of 90 meter below sea level but modern technology allows contractors to solidate the ground only up to 70 meter deep. 

The below photo was taken in January 2018.

okinawa,military

Map of Henoko coast and Oura Bay reclamation area to build two runways as relocation site of Futenma.

okinawa,military

Currently Henoko side, left side of the map has been landfilled.

okinawa,military

Although the landfilling already started in Heneoko sea side area (left side), but at this point only one third of all the planned area is landfilled and even that one third is not fully landfilled yet. It was filled up to 3 meters high but still requires another 4 meters, which would take at least another 3 years and the other two thirds on Oura bay side (right side of the photo) have not started at all due to the technical issues related to very soft ground under the sea. Henoko side is shallow but Oura bay side is very deep.

 

Even after 3 years passed since landfilling started, only less than 10 % of total amount of soil was used. 

 

The below photo is Henoko coast side landfill January of this year. Only 3 meter of planned 7 meter is filled up.

okinawa,military

This is just a little bit over the beach. One can easily walk in water to the pier from the beach. 

okinawa,military

okinawa,military

It is not too late to get back to the original landscape like one when the reclamation wasn't done as a photo of the below taken in April 2017 shows.

okinawa,military

Initially that bigger Oura area, was supposed to be landfilled first but it was found even piers cannot withstand minimum level of earthquake. MoD knew this fact in 2015 but had not revealed it until 2017.

okinawa,military

Even US GAO (Government Accountability Office) and the think tank CSIS recently reported Henoko landfill construction is difficult to implement due to the technical issues.

 

It is possible that the project is terminated halfway for some reason but irreversible damages would be left together with grudge from locals. Some portion of the budget for relocation of Marine Corp. to Camp Schwab and Guam is spared by US Government. That means this project wastes not only Japanese tax payers’ money but Americans as well.

 

It has been done for the interests of the few. The few, you might know, are certain businesses and government people who want some gains from the project. One of major contractors of the project is Taisei Kensetsu Corporation, where third son of the former Prime Minister, Suga, works.

 

As long as the construction goes on, the contractors can gain profits until the termination. For the Marines, the current Futenma base can be used as long as possible. While the construction goes on, irreversible damage on the environment is being expanded.

 

5 This construction might deteriorate friendship between the two nations

 

You might say this issue is something to be handled by the Japanese government, and that it is not the responsibility of the US military. But that sounds very hypocritical. The US military is the one that uses the facility and up until now involved in designing of new runways and annexed facilities. The US government can stop that project and find another relocation site outside Okinawa.

 

If the US continues to attribute this to the Japanese government, it is just like what Japanese conservative politicians say when it comes to the “Comfort Women” issue: “The Japanese Imperial Army was not responsible for kidnapping women in Asia for sexual slavery for soldiers during the war period in the early 20th century, it was what outsourced local brothels did.” The US Congress disavowed such argument and made a resolution to demand that the Japanese government apologize for former comfort women in 2007.

 

Growing doubts about US commitment to Japan’s defense

In fact, the US military presence in Okinawa and even nationwide is becoming nothing but troublesome. More of us know that the US military presence no longer functions as defense or deterrence like in the Cold War era. China is said to be a new threat but we know that US-China relations have become more vital for your nation since China owns more US treasury bonds and buys more US goods than Japan does. China has become a much larger economy than Japan these days.

 

We can easily predict that the US would not help Japan even if China and Japan became involved in a dispute for some reason such as the territorial right to the Senkaku islands located in between sea border of Japan and China. The US cannot send troops to assist Japan fighting against the Chinese military because such action might cause great losses for your national interests. China also played a big role in negotiating with North Korea. China is vital for US foreign policy.

 

Current ongoing crisis in Ukraine revealed US reluctance to help its ally. US announced that they would not send troops to help Ukraine from Russian invasion although US signed the security assurance memorandum with Ukraine in 1994 and just before the invasion started, US claimed that it would not stop Ukraine from joining NATO members. Ukraine military once did joint military exercise with the US military so Ukraine expected that US and NATO allies would send troops and set no-fly zone over Ukraine like they did in Yugoslavia 1990's but such thing never happened.

 

US military no longer functions even as deterrent forces.

 

Military experts and even former US military officials say that the biggest reason that the US military forces stay in Japan is to cut cost of their own because Japan provides host nation support fund, which we call “Sympathy Budget” that accounts for more than 70% of total expense for the US bases in Japan. There are more than 130 facilities of US military in Japan. Most of the troops are stationed at 30 facilities in Okinawa prefecture that accounts for 1 % of total of Japan’s territory and population.

 

During Vietnam War, it was a transit point to transport soldiers, military weapons and equipment. Now there is no strategic importance. How many of US congressmen and senators knows Okinawa? Is this place worth keeping bases in?

 

Recently China increased military power significantly so Okinawa, where several major bases are concentrated, now have become very vulnerable to the attack from China. Okinawa is obviously within China’s missile range. Once the dispute occurs, China can shoot missiles to destroy runways in Okinawa before any plane take off. Military strategists claim it is better to disperse bases in Asia-Pacific in order to counter the military threat from China. Eggs in a bucket can easily be broken.

 

In addition, like Russia, China possesses nuclear arms. As for what is going on in Ukraine, US could not get involved in the war against Russia because it wants to avoid the nuclear war.

We are sure that's the same case for the war against China. 

 

Deploying your military so much in our country, especially Okinawa is just causing growing distrust against your country. I believe the Okinawa issue presents the perfect timing for your nation to rethink its military deployment in Japan in order to improve the relationship between the two nations. Constructing a base on reclaimed land in the Henoko sea is the worst possible idea.

 

The image of America is getting worse

US military presence functions to apply American influence on our nation. Yes, it did work that way but you really have to know this may be working negatively. The image of your country itself is no longer positive like in the past. In other words, the US is no longer a powerful land of dreams, nor is it any longer a role model for us.

 

One example of this can be seen in a recent best-selling book on your country’s poverty issue. The title of the book is “Rupo Hinkontaikoku America” (Report, Poverty Superpower, America). It was written by a Japanese journalist, TSUTSUMI Mika. The book describes how Americans are struggling with poverty in a plutonomy society and explains how Japan should not follow suit.

 

We know that a lot of young Marine troops stationed there come from poor families that cannot afford college education and have problems like domestic violence. They join the Marines by system, so called, Poverty Draft. That is why they cause troubles with Okinawa locals.

 

In addition, four years of Trump administration proved disparity among your nation. Although Trump lost in last year’s presidential election. 74 million Americans voted him, record number among sitting presidents. His comments during the administration delivered very negative images of America to Japanese citizens. We expect someone like him would be reelected in the near future, which is disappointing me, who learnt decency of America.

 

6 Your Servicemen & women and American residents are facing hostility in Okinawa

 

In September 2019, US Marines faced apparent resistance from locals and activists. citizens blocked port entry of US Marine vehicles carrying a boat for training. The port was located in Motobu town, 30 minute drive from Henoko and the boat was supposed to be shipped to nearby island.

okinawa,military

okinawa,military

Young military servicemen and women had to hear yelling from protesters and waited inside the vehicle for hours without air condition. The Marine vehicle was trying to enter the port to unload the boat to use for training on the sea.

okinawa,military

Even port workers were standing at the entrance as human shield. The workers oppose military use of the port because they want to allow only civilian use. After 10 hours of sit-in protest, Marine vehicle with the boat on a trailer had to leave the port to go back to Camp Schwab. 

okinawa,military

I was there joining the sit-ins and talked with servicemen and woman. They seemed very unhappy having such conflicts. They should feel like being deployed on enemy line, not in allied nation.

okinawa,military

Recently I met an American woman who manages a cheese shop “Little Greek Kitchen” at Plaza House Shopping Center in Okinawa. She was interviewed by Japan’s national television station NHK, and said that she did not want to be recognized as US military affiliated because reputation of US military has been very bad. She welcomes anyone regardless of nationality or what organization they belong to.

okinawa,military

At the Camp Schwab gate, every day they have to see the protesters’ civil disobedience act and in many times being yelled at and called names. They never feel welcome. I do not think they feel honored to serve Marine Corp. as long as they are stationed in Okinawa.

okinawa,military

okinawa,military

Just next to Camp Schwab personnel entry gate is construction vehicle gate where every weekday, protestors sit-in to block the construction vehicles so that less vehicles could get in and delay the construction.

okinawa,military

In Abu and Shiokawa ports located on the oppsite side of the island, where soils for the reclamation is being transported from nearby mountains to Henoko, local protestors stand in front of trucks to slow the work. 

okinawa,military 

okinawa,military

Do you think this situation creates healthy relationship among US, Japan and Okinawa? Proceeding of such unnecessary and infeasible construction are just making things worse. It should be halted immediately for the friendship or for the time being, construction must be stopped for the review.

 

Current Japanese government is willing to continue this but the opposing parties announced the termination of the construction if they regain the governance of Japan since the local protest is growing bigger than ever and the construction is found to be infeasible. Even a former Defense Minister, Nakatani in the current ruling party claimed it should be stopped.

 

Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic delays the construction schedule in addition to the local resistance. In April 2020 the construction was halted for 2 months because the workers got infected. Camp Schwab service personnel got infected as well. More budget for the pandemic relief is required. We will soon meet with the serious budget shortage and chaos due to the pandemic.

 

7 Russia and China are watching what America is doing in Okinawa

 

The end of last year when new recruits came to Okinawa bases including Camp Schwab and they went out of the camp without wearing masks on their faces, the infection cases grew rapidly within the Okinawa island. Okinawa had to restrict business activities which damaged its local economy.

okinawa,military

(Photo taken near the Camp Schwab fence on 27 December 2021, when mask wearing was mandated in Okinawa, actually still madated now)

At that time, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman claimed US is responsible for the widespread infection in Okinawa and other countries by not mandating mask on servicemen and women, so US should not lead the world's COVID-19 counter-measures though it prided themselves to be.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned this Henoko new base construction issue in December 2018 and claimed doubts about Japan’s territorial sovereignty on northern territorial islands between Hokkaido and Sakhalin which currently Russia administered because the Henoko construction has proceeded even though local governor and local residents opposed the plan.

If Japan is a democratic sovereign state, that shouldn’t happen. Russia is worried if the islands were returned to Japan, US military bases might be placed just near the Japan-Russia boarder. The territory was never returned due to Japan’s too much dependency on US military.

 

Putin just recently brought up nuclear attacks in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as America's inhumane acts. He claimed that Japan should recall this attack as America's attack on Japan. He's watching what America is doing in Japan. Russians are interested in this issue so when the referendum was held in February 2019, journalists of Interfax Press came to report what is going on.

 

I was interviewed by them and was asked why Japanese conservatives support such US military base construction despite their nationalism. (The below photo is the Russian journalists interviewing beforementioned White House petition campaigner, Rob Kajiwara, Naha city, Okinawa, February 2019)

okinawa,military

US claimed that democracy is the best system for humanity. So authoritarian regimes such as Russia and China are not good. But in Okinawa US seems to prove the reverse. As things like this go on, these nations would bring up Okinawa issues to counter US appeal of how great democracy is. Is that what you like? 

okinawa,military

As for practical solutions of this issue, I recommend your organization to review a proposal by a private think tank, The New Diplomacy Initiatives (http://www.nd-initiative.org/en/), which suggests removal of US Marine bases from Okinawa but instead, establishing joint Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Corp. with Japan’s Self-Defense Force equipped with high speed transport vessels, which rotates around East Asia. It is cost-effective and able to contribute to security of the region more realistically.

 

Sincerely,      

 

Stay Safe!

 

P.S.

Permit me for writing some awkward or grammatically incorrect phrases since I am not a native speaker of English.

16 September 2021

911 has become a history

This month marked 20th anniversary of the terror attack to the World Trade Center in New York. 

20 years ago I watched a news program on TV. Then suddenly the scene of airplane crash into the buildings were shown. An hour later the two building collapsed. Around 3000 people died. I truly tribute to the victims. 

I remember I was on the World Trade Center rooftop 8 years before that terror attack when I was a college student in US. 

It was like being on top of the world. 

terror, 911, history, World Trade Center 

terror, 911, history, World Trade Center

Now since that day the place is known as "Ground Zero." Where I used to stand has become a memorial site. 

Then the fightback war in Afghanistan started followed by the war in Iraq for ambiguos reasons. 10 years ago, Osama Binladin was killed. 

Last month US withdrew troops from Afghanistan after Taliban regime who harbored Osama Binladin and his terror group Al Qaeda took over the country's capital. 13 US service persons were killed by the terror attack just a few days before the pullout. 

This incident gave the world impression that the US was defeated by Taliban and Al Qaeda. Surely it never really meant US lost in the global war on terror. The fight still continues over the horizon. 

But what has been happening over these 20 years? 

My image of America has gone bad since 911. Many civilian casualties was numbered. But most Americans justified military actions that could cost civilian death except people like Peaceful Tomorrows. A liberal and kind American friend I knew turned very aggressive and supported the war. It seemed the world I knew flipped up side down. 

These days I am disgusted with America. 

Especially because of US military issue, as this post describes.

Dear US Government re: request for terminating USMC new base construction in Okinawa, Japan

The US military destroys Japan's precious environment and is undermining Japan's national sovereignty. 

In fact, America itself turned very ugly nation as the former President Trump symbolised such movement. The bottom line is America is white and Christian nation. Other than white and Christian means the second class citizen. That is why Asians became target for COVID-19 related hate-crimes. 

Just right before US military pullout of Afghanistan, US did drone strike on what they claimed, the terrorist who instructed the attack on the site where 13 US soldiers were killed. But now it was suspected to be civilian residence who had no connection with the terror and caused child victims according to this news report. 

America is giving bad things to the world although it still leads the world in economy and politics. 

But it is no longer the moral leader. To me, America is no longer a friend, though not an enemy. I became more isolationist or feel closer to other nations. 

The whole world is changing. The power balance is changing as well as the values. 

Good Bye, America and the world I knew before 911! I am seeing the new world and new values. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next