Immediate Closure and Reversion of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and for Its Relocation out of Okinawa Prefecture and of Japan
U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is located in an urban area in the central region of Okinawa Island, and it’s surrounded by densely populated communities with homes, businesses, and schools. If an accident were to occur, the damage caused to the residents and various facilities in the communities are projected to be enormous, and at present, these areas are considered to be extremely hazardous due to potential accidents.
Futenma Air Station has been referred to as “the most dangerous airfield in the world,” and has seen aircraft-related incidents in the past. In particular, a large CH-53D transport helicopter belonging to the U.S. Marine Corps crashed onto the grounds of Okinawa International University on August 13, 2004. This grave accident, which could have caused much more damage and devastation, is a testimony to the dangers posed by the Air Station.
For these and other reasons, the people of Okinawa have long demanded the return of Futenma Air Station from both the Japanese and U.S. governments. The Air Station was to be fully returned under the agreement reached in 1996 by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO), as well as in the 2006 Japan-U.S. Roadmap for Realignment Implementation finalized by the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee concerning the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan. It has been 13 years since the initial agreement, and yet, the return of the Air Station has not been realized and the dangers still remain.
The people of Okinawa have learned through the tragedies of the Battle of Okinawa and long for a peaceful and safe homeland without military bases. However, the SACO Agreement, which stipulates the return of Futenma Air Station on the condition of its relocation within Okinawa, simply leads to the construction of another new base. The will of the people of Okinawa has been clearly indicated through referendums, various polls and organized rallies. Environmentally, the coast of Henoko, Nago City, where the Air Station is to be relocated, is recognized as a natural treasure of the nation, and the area is home to a variety of endangered marine life including the dugong, which is an internationally protected mammal species. The ocean surrounding this area is truly one of the most beautiful sights in the world, where communities of coral have been recently discovered for the first time.
The residents of Ginowan City, where Futenma Air Station is located, as well as the rest of the citizens of Okinawa call for the full return of the Air Station at the earliest possible stage and for the resolution of land usage issues led by the national government.
Furthermore, the mayor of Nago City is opposed to the construction of a base facility both on land and the sea.
To that end, we, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, in our duty to protect the lives, property, and the living environment of the people of Okinawa, strongly demand both the Japanese and U.S. governments to promptly close U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and at the same time, abandon the plan to relocate the Air Station within Okinawa Prefecture and instead, relocate out of the prefecture or out of Japan.
This Written Opinion is submitted in line with the stipulations of Article 99 of the Local Autonomy Act of Japan, on this 24th
day of February, 2010.
Okinawa Prefectural Assembly