Ten Thousand Things blog just published an excellent update on the firing of a Japan Defense Ministry representative who compared the U.S. military construction in Okinawa to “rape.” There is good background information links on the page for the tense situation in Takae, a forest area in northern Okinawa threatened with expansion of helicopter landing facilities. Here’s an excerpt:
The head of the Okinawan branch of Japan’s Defense Ministry compared DC-Tokyo forced US military construction in Okinawa to “rape.” For his transparent comment about US-Tokyo strategy, Satoshi Tanaka was fired yesterday.
Japanese Defense Minister Ichikawa apologized to Okinawans for Tanaka’s remark.
In mid-November Tanaka moved ahead, despite local oppostion, with US military construction in biodiverse Yanbaru Forest, a subtropical rainforest in northern Okinawa. The U.S. Marines want to destroy one of Yanburu’s most well-preserved areas, a habitat for unique, indigenous species, to make way for military Osprey aircraft heliports.
The U.S. Marines, the manufacturer, and congressional representatives from the district in Texas in which the factory is located, have lobbied for years against the axing of the expensive, accident-prone military Osprey aircraft from the U.S. defense budget. This Iron Triangle even beat out former Vice President Dick Cheney who argued against the program. Despite extreme costs, accident risks, and no strategic value for the aircraft, US Marines have pushed to build heliports for the Osprey aircraft in Okinawa since they need someplace to put them, according to some U.S. foreign affairs analysts.
As a result, residents of Takae, an eco-village in Yanbaru Forest, have been in a cold war with the U.S. Marines for years. Residents report assaults by U.S. military helicopters against civilian protesters. Some fly low to the ground,terrorizing villagers destroying their property, and damaging forest trees. One villager reported that a U.S. soldier demanded food, at riflepoint, while laughing at her. These are just a few reports that reflect the tip of an iceberg of accounts of U.S. military injuries and intentional infliction of emotional distress upon local people.
Meanwhile, Hawai’i (Mokapu and Pohakuloa) is threatened by a proposed increase in helicopter and Osprey training activities. The Marine Corps is holding hearings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The schedule of hearings is here.