2016: "Ceasefire" on Oura Bay - the "Agreement"
Okinawa. Henoko. Camp Schwab.
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 14, Issue 7, No. 1. April 1, 2016
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus.
“Ceasefire” on Oura Bay: The March 2016 Japan-Okinawa “Amicable Agreement”
Introduction and Six Views from within the Okinawan Anti-Base Movement
Much has been written on the government of Japan's determination to provide a new base for the United States Marine Corps at Henoko on Oura Bay in northern Okinawa and to transfer the existing, obsolescent, dangerous and inconvenient Futenma Air Station to it.1 When the agreement to "return" the Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station to Japan was first reached (April 12, 1996), it was to occur "within five to seven years." As the 20th anniversary of that agreement loomed early in 2016, the Marine Corps' "Marine Aviation Plan 2016" amended the already several times pushed back transfer/reversion date to "fiscal year 2025" (October 2024-September 2025).2 Admiral Harry Harris, Commander-of US Pacific forces presented that date in evidence to Congress early in 2016.3 But even as that 2025 date was being reluctantly accepted in Washington, at the beginning of March 2016, Japan despatched its top security official, Yachi Shotaro, to Washington to seek the Obama government's understanding (and presumably also its permission) for a further substantial delay.4 Once the US consented, the Abe government came to an "out-of-court" March 4 agreement (discussed in this paper and in the following opinion essays by Okinawans) with Okinawa Prefecture, that involved a complete and indefinite suspension of site works at Henoko. Lt. General Robert Neller, commander of the US Marine Corps, told a Senate military affairs committee meeting that that suspension could be expected to last a further 12-months.5 President Obama, advised of the impending delay, merely responded with "So there will be nothing happening for a while then."6
Despite the presidential calm, anger in Washington is palpable as the date for fulfilment of the Japanese pledge keeps being pushed back, and as the most pro-American government of recent times fails to deliver on its repeated promises of closure. As Admiral Harris noted, of 200 base transfer-related items carried in Japan's 2015 budget, just nine had been completed with eight more still underway, and the situation at the Henoko site was not improving but rather protest was "continuing to escalate."7 On the Japanese side ....
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