These people-to-people exchanges and solidarity efforts are very encouraging. The peoples of our region can make peace despite the oppressive and militarized policies of our governments.
Japan Group Shares Experience With Military Presence
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 04:54
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff
Tsuru Masaaki, leader of the 21-member delegation known as the Kyushu block Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs said yesterday that the delegation’s mission was to share with Guam residents and leaders, the hardships their people have gone through with the military presence in Japan and to learn from local residents and leaders the issues facing Guam and the impending military buildup and its presence here.
When asked by Variety if the group planned to have an alliance with Guam, Masaaki said that they had no particular plan to draft any joint resolution or take any kind of action, but because they met with Guam residents and exchanged experiences, “we promised to continue to help and to have an exchange so in the future, we’re going to do something.”
“We came here to know the situation of Guam because we heard that in Guam people have the same kind of problems as the people in Japan. We came here to see the situation, only, not really have a special purpose of implementation.
Masaaki is from the Fukuoka Prefecture and is an attorney, as well as the executive chairman of Fukuoka local Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs Saga Prefecture.
Uezu Yoshinao from Okinawa shared his views of the military presence in Okinawa, saying that Futenma Airbase is the most dangerous air base in the world.
Yoshinao backed up his statement saying that Futenma airbase is located near residential homes and public buildings. In August, 2004, a U.S. helicopter crashed and parts of the copter flew towards the residential area.
“Years ago, a U.S. helicopter crashed and part of the copter flew towards the residential area and people were really scared. Fortunately, there was nobody who was injured by that accident, but people are always facing that kind of fear,” said Yoshinao.
Yoshinao said that this situation would never have existed in the United States.
“In the U.S. this location cannot exist. Futenma airbase is near a residential area and public buildings. If this were in the U.S. you couldn’t build an airport in that area that is close to a residential area. So why in Japan, can you be allowed to do that and not in the U.S.? So as soon as possible, the airbase should be removed from there,” said Yoshinao.
Yoshinao said that incidents that will never be forgotten is one such as the rape of young Okinawan girls by U.S. military personnel.
The raping of young girls in Okinawa … this is just one example…The people of Okinawa has been suffering so that is why we want the U.S. bases out of Okinawa,” he said.
Yoshinao said he believes that the U.S. bases or military presence in Okinawa is representative of the United States itself. Therefore, the U.S. government must take responsibility for the base.
Senator Tina Muna Barnes said that it was clear from the beginning of the dialogue that local prefectures from Japan have the same concerns as Guam.
“They are on a fact-finding mission. There are concerns and parallels with issues such as ours regarding their land, their marine life, the aspect of how air space is being utilized, and self determination. I think all those things — we share all those concerns as common ground — so when is the United States going to step up to the plate to make sure there’s collaboration and there’s a fair playing field for everyone,” opined the lawmaker.