International Meeting

World Conference against A and H Bombs

Hiroaki Yoshizawa

Representative Director, Okinawa Gensuikyo

From Okinawa 30 years after its return to Japan – gLife is a Treasureh

On March 1945, the U.S. troops landed on Okinawa.  After a violent ground battle (Iron Storm) with the U.S. armed forces that followed, the organized resistance of the Japanese troops came to a close on June 23, marking the end of the Battle of Okinawa.  A crude wartime occupation began and lasted until the entry into force on April 28, 1952 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.  The U.S.-Japan Agreement on the Return of Okinawa that became effective on May 15, 1972 gave back to Japan the administrative right over Okinawa.  This put an end to the cruel 27 year-occupation and rule of Japan by the U.S. armed forces.  This year is the 30th year since the restitution of Okinawa and the 50th year since the entry into force of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

During these years, the people of Okinawa prefecture have been struggling together with peace forces across the country to make gOkinawa and Japan nuclear-free, base-free, peaceful and affluenth.  I would like to express my respects and gratitude to the democratic and peace forces, overseas friends and all those who are behind them in their support for and solidarity with the struggle of Okinawa.

What are the realities in Okinawa 30 years after it was returned to Japan?

75% of U.S. bases and related special facilities remain concentrated on Okinawa.  Because of the secret agreement between U.S. President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato reached during their talks on the reversion of Okinawa, nuclear weapons can be brought into Okinawa any time in the event of a contingency.  As many as 5,006 criminal cases involving U.S. military personnel have occurred since 1992 to 2000. 4,866 soldiers have been arrested, including 670 arrests relating to 527 atrocious crimes.

U.S. base related accidents are countless.  The most recent one involved a C2 transport plane flown from a U.S. aircraft carrier. The plane made an emergency landing at Kadena Base on April 26 due to an oil leak.  It was the fourth accident since the beginning of April. At the time they were recurring at a rate of once a week.  They were minor accidents: the fall of a flare bomb, a spare fuel tank and a windbreak glass shield, as well as a massive oil leak, but they were just one step short of becoming major disasters.  Eyewitnesses of the recent oil leak accident say gIt stank of oil,h gmy eyes achedh and gfuel gushed from the plane like Haleyfs Comet. The trail was 7 times longer than the plane itselfh.  Judging from the information provided by the U.S. armed forces and the media about the fuel of the plane in question, the quantity of oil leaked is equivalent to the quantity of water sprayed by a large fire engine for about 10 minutes.

On July 23, machine gun bullets from the firing range in Camp Schwab hit the ground 2 meters from a farmer working in his pineapple field in Sukuda, Nago City.  Similar cases have occurred frequently in the past around the area of this accident.  For instance, a cannonball fell at a point about 80 meters from the seashore (1978).  A water tank in a piggery was shot by a heavy machine gun (1979).  In Kiyota, a parked dump truck as well as a running taxi were shot by a heavy machine gun (1984 and 1987).

On July 22 and 23 this year, U.S. helicopter flying at very low altitude approached very close to fishing ships in a manmade lagoon on the coast of Kumejima and threatened and disturbed them.  The wind almost blew the crew off the ship into the water.  Although the area is near Torishima, the island the U.S. troops used to bomb with depleted uranium, it is a fishing zone and not included in the exercise area. @The mayor of Kumejima-cho, as well as the president of city fishing co-op were outraged and protested against the exercises, saying that the fishing industry will definitely be damaged.  The Okinawa prefectural assembly took up the issue and manifested its protest to the U.S. armed forces.

If Okinawa has become like a battlefield, the planned transfer of Futemma Base to off the Henoko coast, Nago City, has entered a new stage.  The gCouncil for Substitution of Facilitiesh (made up of representatives of the government, Okinawa prefecture and Nago City) that met in the Prime Ministerfs Residence on July 29 decided on a gbasic plan (draft)h to build a new base that will be 2500 meters long and 730 meters wide.  The method used for the construction of the new base will consist of filling a 2.2-kilometer long coral reef off the Henoko coast, an extremely environmentally destructive action.  The Dugongs will all die, and accidents and noise will increase.  This will inevitably cause serious damage to the living conditions of the local people.  The campaign to stop the construction of a new sortie base, with state-of-art 22 large Osprey helicopters, has awakened the people, who have so far accepted the new base, to the point that they are reconsidering their attitude.  On August 1, the special committee on military bases of the Nago City Council unanimously adopted a demand for the withdrawal of the agreed gbasic planh to be submitted to an extraordinary session of parliament.  A local newspaper reported the adoption with a big title gA shock wave ran across the Governmenth. 

The struggle of the Okinawan people for the withdrawal of nuclear bases and a halt to the construction of a new sortie base will steadily advance.

Okinawa was made to serve as a base for the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.  Now, it is used as a foothold for the strikes on Afghanistan.  Allowing the U.S. military presence is itself a contribution to war, an act of complicity..

Joseph Gerson said that voices of opposition are now being heard within the U.S. to the American unilateralism that prioritizes military buildup.  The Koizumi Cabinetfs attempt to enact gcontingency lawsh and to insidiously revise the Constitution panders to this U.S. unilateralism and must not be allowed.  We do not want to be an accomplice in a war of aggression.

From Okinawa, as it celebrates the 30th anniversary of its reversion to Japan, I call on you to build confidence among the peoples of Asia and Pacific so that they can advance hand in hand.  The phrase gLife is a treasureh must not be exclusive to Okinawa. This is my wish. 

No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more Hibakusha.

Thank you.