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Residents of Okinawa are increasingly incli

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5/25/2017 6:06:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Residents of Okinawa are increasingly inclined against US military bases.
At the present time there are approximately 47,000 American soldiers and officers in US military bases in Japan. The agreements between Tokyo and Washington, according to which the United States has the right to deploy ground, air and naval forces on the territory of Japan and near it, appeared after the defeat of Japan in the Second World War. In return for their basing, American troops pledged to "ensure the security of Japan and maintain peace and stability in the Pacific Rim." As a result, in a relatively small area (an area of just over 1200 square kilometers), a whole network of bases, firing fields and airfields arose.
The US military presence worsens the economic and social situation of the Japanese territories on which the US military facilities are located. This is especially characteristic of the island of Okinawa, which today is considered the poorest and economically underdeveloped prefecture of Japan. Up to 20% of arable land is occupied by objects of military infrastructure, and almost all occupied territories for military construction have been forcibly taken away from the owners.
In addition, the residents of Okinawa suffer from the constant noise created by the continually rising and approaching military aircraft, as well as the deterioration of the ecological situation: the soil and water channels of several areas of Okinawa are heavily polluted, because of the leakage of fuel from engines and other harmful substances.
Okinawa Prefecture bears the burden of the US military presence even 45 years after the US transferred its administrative rights back to Japan. Such a statement was made by the Governor of the Prefecture of Takeshi Onaga on May 15 on the anniversary of the return of these territories, which have been occupied by the United States after the end of World War II.
"After the transfer, Okinawa continues to suffer from incidents involving US military bases, as well as from environmental and other problems, which is the biggest obstacle to our development," he said. Onaga also noted that he is ready to make every effort to defend the position of the prefecture in the matter of redeployment of the US Marine Corps Futenma airbase.
On the 45th anniversary of the transfer of Okinawa, about two thousand inhabitants of the island staged a demonstration demanding to stop construction work in the airbase relocation area. By the way, similar demonstrations for the closure of American bases in Okinawa are conducted by local inhabitants for several decades.
The US Marine Corps Futenma is located in the south of Okinawa in the populous city of Ginowan. City residents have long sought the liquidation of this facility, believing that the flights of the MV-22 Osprey aircrafts pose a threat to the local ecology and population, and eventually it was decided to transfer this base to the Henoko area also in Okinawa Prefecture.
During the February visit of Pentagon chief James Mattis to Japan, the parties once again confirmed that this option is the only possible, despite the fact that local residents and authorities require the full withdrawal of Futenma from the prefecture.
In general, there is an active reassessment of bilateral cooperation in the Japanese society. There is also growing awareness that the negative aspects of the US military presence (first and foremost, economic and environmental damage from numerous military bases and a variety of different military equipment on them, the growth of servicemen's crimes, etc.) increasingly outbalance individual benefits from an alliance with the United States.

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