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The Unbearable Lightness of the SOFA

Akiko Yamamoto Part-time Lecturer of Okinawa International University

The most famous issue of Okinawa base problems has been Futenma relocation since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments in 1996. The SACO was established in November 1995 to reduce the burden of U.S. military bases on the people of Okinawa and strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance with the rape incident by three U.S. marines which victim was a 12-year-old girl in the summer of 1995 as a start.

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Apparent from this map showing locations of the U.S. Marine Corps Facilities in Okinawa, there has been a vast area of Marine Corps facilities including the Futenma Air Station, which cover about 67% of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

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Therefore, not only the Futenma Air Station but also some of parts of the Jungle Warfare Training Center (Camp Gonsalves) were pledged to be returned to the Government of Japan on the SACO agreement under the condition of the construction of alternative facilities at Japanese expense.

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Takae, the north side of Higashi Village, is a small town of only 150 people, separated from the rest of the village by Camp Gonsalves. When Takae’s residents heard of the construction of new landing zones (LZs) at Camp Gonsalves that would surround them in 1999, they adopted a resolution against the construction. Against their will, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed with the construction of six sites of landing zones at Takae in 2006, and the mayor of Higashi Village accepting the plans in 2007. The residents of Higashi Village were divided not just by the U.S. military base, but by politics.

In addition, the Japanese government charged the fifteen residents of Takae engaged in a sit-in protest against the landing zones at the Camp Gonsalves gate, and the Naha District Court issued an executive order that one of the charged residents could not block the passage of government officials. The Supreme Court of Japan upheld the order in June 2014. Furthermore, the construction of two landing zones was completed, and the U.S. Marine Corps began using them in February 2015. These events caused heavy damage to the unity of the resisting residents. When construction of the remaining landing zones was begun in July 2016, a reduced number of residents came out in protest. The residents of Takae were also divided. Instead, about from 100 to 200 supporters coming inside and outside Okinawa added sit-in with about ten residents of Takae, but finally the construction of all the landing zones was completed in the end of December 2016. 

Legacy of the Occupation Period and U.S.-Japan SOFA

Why does relocation of the U.S. military bases raise anti-base movements by the residents around the relocation sites in Japan? ・・・続きを読む
(残り:約4477文字/本文:約8220文字)

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筆者

Akiko Yamamoto

Akiko Yamamoto Part-time Lecturer of Okinawa International University

Dr. Akiko Yamamoto is a part-time lecturer of Okinawa International University and University of the Ryukyus. Her works of research are “The United States and the Revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty: Okinawa, the U.S. Military Bases, and the Alliance (Yoshida Publishing Company, 2017),” “The Outsiders of the U.S. Presidents: the Mavericks Threaten the World (Asahi Library, 2017)” and so on.