Thursday, September 22, 2016

US Using Okinawa as a Place Where It Can 'Bully People and Expand Profits'

10:31 18.09.2016(updated 11:53 18.09.2016)

A Japanese court has ruled against Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who canceled his predecessor's decision to relocate a US military base within the prefecture. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Ryan Dawson, a human rights activist, geopolitical analyst and author of "The Separation of Business and State."  

“During the parliamentary elections in July, every single parliamentary seat for Okinawa went to the opposition parties, which are against the base’s expansion. The US and the Tokyo government both said they wanted to relocate the base to a less populated area of Okinawa. The locals say, however, that even if the airbase is relocated, it doesn’t mean that the original base is going to be shut down. This is just an expansion,” Ryan Dawson said.

He added that the people of Okinawa and the governor are obviously against this base expansion, which they see as trampling on their sovereignty. Tokyo, for its part, sees this as compliant with its relations with the Americans.

“The government of Okinawa has decided to withdraw from the previous agreement on the base. They don’t want the base and will use every pretext to prevent it from staying there,” Dawson noted.

When asked about the chances of the Supreme Court overturning this ruling, Ryan Dawson said that the Court usually favors the central government and that this is something the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party will have to watch out for because it lost all its parliamentary seats last July over this issue.

“This is a case of the central government trampling on the local government and, as the Okinawa governor said, ‘“why would we have a local government if all its policies are going to be dictated by the state and that they are not going to listen to local autonomies? Okinawa is supposed to be governed by Okinawans.’”

Ryan Dawson said that the conflict around the planned expansion of the US military base in Okinawa is going to help the opposition parties.

“This base relocation is not really a geopolitical matter, it’s about fulfilling certain business contracts, it’s not really in the military interest, it’s not there to fight off North Korea or anything like that. The US is just using Okinawa as a place where it can bully people and expand personal profits of the corporations involved in the base expansions,” Dawson continued.

Mentioning the possibility of a compromise reached between the Okinawans and the central government, Ryan said that he didn’t think so because whenever the government wants to relocate US Marines or expand an airstrip, it does so.

“Last year there was a horrible rape and murder of a Japanese woman by a contractor from one of these military bases and this really turned public sentiment against the base expansion because of the behavior of some of the American servicemen. They just do not want them there. Most people would not want foreign military bases. You couldn’t see Americans allowing foreign military bases on their territory on their island or in their home town.”

“The Japanese pay the bill. It’s weird because it is in the US’ interest to have bases in Okinawa. It should be the Americans paying Japan for the use of its territory in their own interests. It’s not in Japan’s interest,” Dawson emphasized.

The US wants to have its bases in Okinawa because it is close to Taiwan. The excuse for the Americans maintaining their bases in Japan and South Korea since WWII has always been North Korea, and before that the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The Cold War is gone now, along with the Soviet Union, so it is just North Korea.

“To have bases in Okinawa just because of North Korea is kind of ridiculous. You don’t really have a good pretext to maintain bases in Okinawa other than letting Lockheed-Martin, Boeing and a lot of giant aerospace companies sell their toys there and it really boils down to military profiteering. It’s not really helping defense, it’s not helping the people of Okinawa and these rape cases and murders are turning the people against the Japanese government, and they also give a bad image to America,” Ryan Dawson said in conclusion.

More than half of the 47,000 American troops in Japan are stationed on the island of Okinawa, which hosts about 75 percent of all US bases in Japan (by land area). The US command planned to relocate the Okinawa base from a densely populated area of the island to a more deserted one, but had to abolish the plan because of strong local resistance.

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