Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki Seeks Global Attention on U.S. Base Concentration

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Denny Tamaki

Geneva, Sept. 18 (Jiji Press) — Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Monday urged the global community to take more interest in the issue of U.S. military bases in Japan being concentrated in the southernmost Japan prefecture.

Speaking at a U.N. Human Rights Council session on international order held in Geneva, Switzerland, Tamaki said that the overwhelming presence of U.S. bases in Okinawa “threatens the peace and prevents the equal participation in decision-making.”

Tamaki became the second incumbent governor of Okinawa Prefecture to talk about the U.S. base situation in the prefecture at a U.N. Human Rights Council session, with the previous being his immediate predecessor, the late Takeshi Onaga, in 2015.

At Monday’s session, Tamaki noted that despite Okinawa only accounting for 0.6 pct of Japan’s national land area, it currently hosts around 70 pct of all U.S. military bases in the Asian nation.

He brought up the 2019 prefectural referendum that showed the majority of Okinawa residents were opposed to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in the Okinawa city of Ginowan to a replacement facility to be built in the Henoko coastal area in the Okinawa city of Nago.

“The Japanese government is imposing the construction of a new American base in Okinawa by carrying out land reclamation work on our precious sea areas,” the governor said.

“We’re afraid that the buildup of military capabilities will increase tensions in the areas around Japan,” he said.

“We, Okinawans, call for stronger diplomatic efforts by the governments concerned,” Tamaki said.

Speaking in response to Tamaki’s statements, a Japanese government representative at the session said, “The presence of U.S. forces in Okinawa is based on geopolitical reasons and Japan’s security needs.”

Stating that the Futenma base is said to be “the most dangerous base in the world” due to being located in an urban area surrounded by homes and schools, the representative added that the Japanese government believes it would be best to steadily advance the construction work based on the policy that the Henoko relocation is “the only solution” to the Futenma base issue.