Open Letter Concerning the Relocation of Futenma Air Station
of U.S. Marine Corps to Nago

February 14, 2000

Governor of Okinawa: Keiichi Inamine
Mayor of Nago Tateo Kishimoto

The relocation of the Futenma Air Station of U.S. Marine Corps to the coastal region of Henoko in Nago City, as Prefectural Governor of Okinawa expressed on November 22,1999 and accepted by the Mayor of Nago on December 27 of the same year, is being advanced as an established fact, while having unclear parts including various information on subsequent events. And in the process, it has left many questions and actualities, incomprehensible to many people.
We think this issue, and the relocation of U.S. military bases, has "very important meanings for the peace of all Japan", as Japan Scientists' Association (JSA) expressed on December 12,1999, moreover, the "problem is not a local issue that could be resolved between the agreements of the Governor and Mayor." Furthermore, the results from the research conducted by a group of scientists, mainly composed of the JSA members, in 1997 indicate the relocation plan includes the problems that cannot be overlooked as minors. Therefore, we address the following questionnaire to the Governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Nago. We demand this letter to be answered at no later than March 31, 2000.


1. Question about Efflux

(1) It is unusual to propose the relocation again, to the almost same ground as the scheme which was rejected by the referendum in Nago in December 1997 (53.8% against, 46.7% in favor). The consideration of the relocation point, the "basic idea in selecting the candidate site," proposed by Okinawa prefecture does not include the referendum intention of the residents of the prospected location. Okinawa prefecture should clarify why the result of the referendum is not taken into consideration. Moreover, Nago city should clarify again for the same reason accepting the prefecture's proposition that ignores the intention of the people in Nago.

(2) Of the maintenance conditions regarding relocation of the base in which Okinawa prefecture indicated, the letter "prerequisite" is attached only to the provision of the retaining period of 15 years. In the case this condition should not hold, would you reject the entire relocation plan even if other conditions were satisfied, as the letter "prerequisite" states? Please clarify whether Nago City would also define the condition as "prerequisite."

(3) In the Japanese government proposition in 1997, two plans, A and B, were presented including the scale and the method of the construction of the base. It was considered useful for the local residents in determining whether they should vote in favor or against for the referendum. However, presentation similar to the above is not presented at all in the proposition of the prefecture this time. Okinawa prefecture should explain the reason. In addition, we expect Nago City to explain the reason for accepting the proposition without notification about the scale and the method of the construction of the air station.

(4) Even though this plan to relocate the Futenma Air Station to Nago City is stated as the realization of the rearrangement and reduction of the U.S. base, the actuality is said to be a functional enhancement of the base, as shown by the planned deployment of a newest military transport aircraft called a MV-22 Osprey. We want to know the view of the prefecture whether this plan is consistent with the concept of "rearrangement and reduction" of the base even if the above- mentioned "functional reinforcement" should take place.

2. Question about the Impact on the Ecological System

(1) Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City should explain about the fundamental idea of accepting the construction of military base in an "natural conservation area," which had been so specified by Okinawa prefecture.

(2) According to the Academic Investigation Research on the Okinawa U.S. Offshore Base of 1997, the area around the construction point serves as the natural habitats of dugongs, a pile of recovering coral reefs, mangrove stands with rich biodiversity, etc. Since Okinawa prefecture claims that it would hold the effects to the natural environment to a minimum in its maintenance conditions, the prefecture should clarify the concrete methods of limiting the destruction of the natural resources. Moreover, since Nago city has presented the "basic conditions" of significant similarity, the city should also show the concrete methods of preserving the natural environment. Even though the Japanese government has proposed its view in 1997, to transfer precious living things to other water areas when they exist in the construction area, this idea is completely ridiculous in reserving a natural eco-system.

(3) Although the proposal raised by the prefecture and the basic conditions shown by the city suggest that necessary inquiry would be performed, the decision is likely to be made without the inquiry. Please clarify why the decision of relocation is not made, based on before-the-fact appraisal (environmental assessment). If the inquiry is replaced with the one already performed by the Japanese government in 1997, the prefecture and city should clarify their concrete explanations to our opposite apprehension that has already been presented as a result of our inquiry (already submitted to the governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Nago).

3. Question about Effects on Residents' Lives

(1) There are many U.S. military bases around Henoko today. If 2,500 more U.S. troops move into Henoko, the balance between the number of residents (1,500 residents) and the troops will change. This change could affect the people's lives, and it is not hard to imagine it would increase accidents and crimes. This will violate the Local Government Act Article 1, chapter 2, term (1) "holding security, health and welfare of the citizen and the visitors." In addition, it violates the new Local Government Act Article 1 - 2, stating that a "local public body bearing (widely) the role of autonomous administration at the area in which it will plan to increase the welfare of the people." The views of the prefecture and city should be shown.

(2) One of the biggest causes of the relocation of Futenma Air Station is noise pollution. In spite of the assertion that the noise problem would decrease in the Henoko coast, there is no guarantee in case of in case of a deployment of large-sized military aircraft, or changes in the models or increase in the number of aircraft. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that the U.S. Forces have always rejected requests by Ginowan City to perform flight training offshore, but have performed their training in the township sky. Also, from the facts just pointed out, we think that the relocation acceptance of a base does not agree with the principle of the above-mentioned Local Government Act. We also expect the apprehensions of the prefecture and the city on this matter.

(3) The prefecture has demanded "economic development of the relocation point and its adjacent area" as conditions of the acceptance of base relocation at the first place. To the policy of the Japanese government in 1997 to trade the economic development off the marine base, Japanese public opinion has rejected the links of two problems and claimed the government to carry out the economic development of Okinawa independently, by the government itself. This time, the same trade off is being requested by the local government. It is very inhumane and it would be a bad precedent. Okinawa prefecture should clarify its views about this point.

Japan Scientists' Association (JSA), Peace Problem Research Committee: Chairman, Tomoyasu Kawai
Academic Investigation to the Okinawa U.S. Offshore Base of 1997: Leader, Masao Kihara
JSA Okinawa Branch: Representative Secretary, Hiroshi Takei
Japan Scientists' Association (JSA)
JSA was established in 1965, and has 8,000 members of specialists in natural, social and cultural sciences.
Secretary General : Shigeru Iwasa (Professor of philosophy at national Hitotsubashi University)

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JSA Okinawa Branch
Established in November 1969 (3-yr before the reversion of Okinawa)
120 members consist of professors of the national university of the Ryukyus, Okinawa International University, and Okinawa University, high school teachers, medical doctors, attorney in law, scientists of various institutes.
Hiroshi Takei (Professor emeritus at the Univ. of the Ryukyus, Biochemistry)
Susumu Arakaki (Professor at the Univ. of the Ryukyus, civil law)

Japan Scientists' Association # 2000.7.19

Our Views about the Reply by the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture to our Open Letter Concerning the Relocation of Futenma Air Station of the U.S. Marine Corps to Nago('007.10)

To Home of JSA Okinawa Branch