International Meeting
2000 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Hiroshi Suda
General Secretary
Japan Peace Committee

The Struggle against US Military Bases in Japan

I would like to speak about the struggle we are carrying on against the extraordinary US military presence in Japan.

(1) Okinawa which hosted the last G8 summit is called the "islands of military bases." The US bases in Okinawa present some features that cannot be found in the other US bases in Japan. In fact, 1) with the base of the 3rd US Marine expeditionary corps and the Kadena Base, the largest US Airbase in the Far East, they account for as much as 20% of the total area of the Okinawa Mainland; 2) they were built on the lands forcibly confiscated by the US troops during the Okinawa ground battle against the will of the local population and were later expanded using bayonets and bulldozers; 3) they are affecting the local community through arbitrarily conducted exercises and drills, destruction of the natural environment and crimes and accidents involving US servicemen.

To the Japanese and US governments’ attempt to use the G8 summit for making the people of Okinawa accept the US military presence in the islands, along with the construction of a new and state-of-art marine base, the Japanese peace movement has responded with a vigorous struggle, denouncing the abnormal realities of the US bases in Okinawa and demanding the contraction and removal of these bases.

The people of Okinawa prefecture, outraged by the crimes frequently committed by US soldiers, on July 15 organized an urgent rally of seven thousand people to demand the revision of the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement and on July 20, succeeded in encircling the Kadena Base under a scorching sun to manifest their rejection of the US bases. I personally took part in this human chain. On that day, 27,100 people, including those who came from their towns or their workplaces in hundreds of buses, and whole families from the area near the base gathered in Kadena and formed a huge human chain around the largest US airbase in the Far East. The Kadena Base was completely encircled by 27,100 people who joined their hands. At that moment, I strongly felt that the human chain was the manifestation of the resolve of the people of Okinawa prefecture to see the US presence reduced and eliminated. In solidarity with the struggle of the people of Okinawa, we, with other peace and democratic forces, produced and distributed for the G8 summit meeting a leaflet in English titled "We Denounce from Okinawa, venue of G8 Summit, the Damage and Crimes of the US Military Bases in Japan." The Japan Peace Committee on its own launched an international appeal on the US bases in Okinawa, which has been supported by 315 organizations in 32 countries. I believe that these initiatives have laid a precious foundation for making widely known to the world the problem of US bases in Okinawa and expanding international joint actions on this issue.

(2) The realities of the US bases in other parts of Japan are also awesome. For example, the US bases and drill grounds can be found throughout Japan. Besides the 134 bases (including those shared with the Japan Self-Defense Forces) deployed from the South to the North of the country, there are 24 air zones and 49 sea zones reserved for US troops's training, as well as 8 air lanes for low-flying practice of US military planes. In addition, some of them serve as the stronghold bases for the only US Marine Corps deployed outside the US, and the mobile aircraft-carrier unit, that have nothing to do with the defense of Japan. Moreover, the US troops in Japan are given prerogatives that allow them to behave as they like: low flying training conducted arbitrarily in complete disregard of Japan's aviation laws, immunity for US soldiers who commit crimes or are responsible for any accident during their duties. In addition to all this, the majority of the stationing cost of the US bases is covered by the Japanese taxpayers. It is also noteworthy that the US bring nuclear weapons into its bases in Japan. At the recent Diet session, the existence of a secret agreement on the bringing-in of nuclear weapons into Japan under the Japan-US Security Treaty (evidenced by the "minutes" of the discussion between the US Ambassador McArthur and Japanese Foreign Minister Hatoyama, carrying their capitalized signatures) was disclosed. In virtue of this agreement, US planes or ships carrying nuclear weapons can visit Japanese seaports and airports whenever they want. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US changed its nuclear strategy and has brought back home tactical and theater nuclear weapons on board of its ships and submarines to store them within its territory. However, in the event of an emergency in future, the US will deploy them again, meaning that the nuclear weapons will be re-introduced into Japan when a crisis happens. The US still maintains it nuclear superiority and has not abandoned the first-use strategy. Under this nuclear strategy, it is indispensable for the US to be able to re-deploy its tactical and theater nuclear weapons in Japan in the event of an emergency. If the secret agreement between Japan and the US on the bringing-in of nuclear weapons into Japan continues to exist, these weapons will be re-introduced to our country every time when a crisis happens to the US, and Japan will be used as a base for a US nuclear war and its nuclear threat.

For these reasons, it is urgent for us to abolish the Japan-US Security Treaty and have the US bases removed from our country. Even before the annulment of the treaty, we must establish a system that prevents the introduction of nuclear weapons. At the same time we must oppose the construction of a new base in Okinawa. We must try to eliminate the crimes of US soldiers and other damages caused by the US bases. We must demand that the existing bases be reduced and dismantled. To this end, we are determined to work with a wide range of groups and individuals as well as municipalities, transcending differences of positions to form a popular majority in defense of peace, security and living conditions of the population.

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