- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
Okinawans criticize plan for offshore air station
NAGO, Japan — Sixty years ago today, the subtropical island of Okinawa became one of the last killing fields of World War II as American troops fought their way ashore after a naval bombardment. Now, say residents and environmentalists, the United States and Japan are assaulting its emerald-green sea.
The 1945 Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest of World War II, killing more than 200,000 people, including 12,520 Americans. But after the war, the U.S. military presence continued here.
American bases on Okinawa’s main island take up 20 percent of its area. Although this forward deployment has played a key role in U.S. military strategy in East Asia, to the Japanese islanders it means crowding, government subsidies, an oppressive burden, and occasional accidents and crimes involving the U.S. garrison.
Having repeatedly promised to reduce this burden, the United States and Japan are trying to construct a big offshore floating military base.
“The U.S. and Japan are acting as if Okinawa were a deserted island — as if no one lives here,” said Etsuko Urashima, a writer who has lived in the region for 15 years. “It seems Americans still have an occupation mentality, since the land was captured at the price of their blood.”
Washington and Tokyo have agreed to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located amid crowded residential areas of central Okinawa, with an offshore airfield off Nago, in northern Okinawa. The plan has provoked criticism from islanders near the proposed site, anti-base activists and international environmental groups. The environmentalists say the construction will destroy coral reefs and sea-grass beds and threaten the survival of rare species, including dugongs — large, gentle mammals that spend their entire lives in the sea.
Seeking to prevent this, U.S. and Japanese environmental groups and some Okinawans sued Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in a U.S. court in September 2003.
In its ongoing military reconfiguration, the Pentagon “tends to lack environmental concern and ignores the voices of local residents,” said Junichi Sato, a member of Greenpeace Japan, who says Americans make up 40 percent of those who joined the group’s “cyber action” to oppose construction of the offshore base.
The project also could end up costing Japanese taxpayers more than $9.5 billion but benefit only some politicians and politically connected contractors, critics contend.
In August, a U.S. military helicopter crashed into a building at the Okinawa International University near the Futenma base. Many had long warned of dangerous situations in the area. Mr. Rumsfeld reportedly was shocked to see the congested location from the air.
“I believe the accident had a significant impact on public opinion,” said Masao Kishimoto, president of the Okinawa Times, the island’s major paper.
In 1996, the United States and Japan promised to close the air station within five to seven years, on the condition that an alternate facility be found on the island. They proposed that it be built offshore east of Nago.
Then, more U.S. and Japanese officials started calling for the review of the plan because it would take about 15 years to complete the project. Because of the growing opposition, Nago Mayor Tateo Kishimoto and Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine emphasize it would be best if the Futenma air station were relocated outside Okinawa.
“To make it more rational and less costly, the functions of Futenma should be shifted to other bases,” said Mikio Shimoji, a former member of the House of Representatives from Okinawa, who predicted a big move would be made next month.
Some also have suggested that the air station be under the control of the Japan Self-Defense Forces and that the United States could use the facility during emergencies.
Activist court cooks up a new rule to undermine religion
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- Satanists petition for statue at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Richard Ivory, editor-in-chief of Hip Hop Republicans and HHR at Communities Digital News, turns his interests, and pen, to the people making news today.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
The world impacts us. What happens in our towns, cities, states, country and on this planet makes a difference to us.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow