Politics

Okinawa Marks 50 Years Since US Handover to Japan Amid Protests – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Price



Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Sunday urged Japan’s central authorities to do extra to scale back the U.S. army presence within the southern island group because it marked the fiftieth anniversary of its return to Japan after 27 years of American rule, amid frustration and bitterness over an absence of assist from the mainland.

Tamaki mentioned Okinawa has come a great distance for the reason that devastation of World War II and almost three a long time of U.S. rule, which ended when it reverted to Japan on May 15, 1972. But the tiny island group’s yearslong demand for the mainland to share its safety burden stays unresolved.

“I name on the central authorities to share with your complete nation the importance of Okinawa’s reversion and the significance of everlasting peace that Okinawans have lengthy craved for,” Tamaki mentioned.

Ceremonies marking the anniversary had been held concurrently in two places — one within the Okinawan metropolis of Giowan, residence to a disputed U.S. air station, and the opposite in Tokyo. The separate ceremonies symbolize the deep divide in views over Okinawa’s historical past and ongoing struggling.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida mentioned he takes Okinawa’s considerations significantly and can make efforts to scale back the burden whereas nonetheless sustaining U.S. army deterrence on the islands.

Kishida and his minister accountable for the islands had been in Okinawa, the place a whole lot of protesters staged a rally Saturday demanding a speedier discount of U.S. army forces, as fears develop that Okinawa might change into a entrance line of battle amid rising China tensions. More protests had been deliberate Sunday on Okinawa’s outer islands.

Resentment and frustration run deep in Okinawa over the heavy U.S. presence and Tokyo’s lack of effort to barter with Washington to steadiness the safety burden between mainland Japan and the southern island group.

Because of the U.S. bases, Okinawa faces burdens together with noise, air pollution, accidents and crime associated to American troops, Okinawan officers and residents say.

Adding to Okinawa’s fears is the rising deployment of Japanese missile protection and amphibious capabilities on Okinawa’s outer islands, together with Ishigaki, Miyako and Yonaguni, that are near geopolitical hotspots like Taiwan.

Okinawa was the positioning of one of many bloodiest battles of World War II, which killed about 200,000 folks, almost half of them Okinawan residents.

Okinawa was sacrificed by Japan’s imperial military to defend the mainland, and plenty of Okinawans are skeptical that the Japanese army would shield them in future conflicts, consultants say.

The U.S. army saved its troop presence on the island group for 20 years longer than most of Japan, till 1972, as a result of Okinawa’s strategic significance for Pacific safety to discourage Russia and communism.

Many Okinawans had hoped that the islands’ return to Japan would enhance the financial system and human rights state of affairs in addition to base burdens.

Today, a majority of the 50,000 U.S. troops based mostly in Japan below a bilateral safety pact and 70% of army amenities are nonetheless in Okinawa, which accounts for less than 0.6% of Japanese land. The burden has elevated from lower than 60% in 1972 as a result of unwelcomed U.S. bases had been moved from the mainland.

The largest sticking level between Okinawa and Tokyo is the central authorities’s insistence {that a} U.S. marine base in a crowded neighborhood, the Futenma air station, must be relocated inside Okinawa as an alternative of shifting it elsewhere as demanded by many Okinawans.

Tokyo and Washington initially agreed in 1996 to shut the station after the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three U.S. army personnel led to an enormous anti-base motion.

Tamaki earlier in May submitted a petition to Kishida’s authorities and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel demanding a major discount of the U.S. army in Okinawa, the rapid closure of the Futenma base and the scrapping of a brand new base in Henoko.

Economic, academic and social growth in Okinawa lagged behind as Japan loved a postwar financial surge that was helped by decrease protection spending due to the U.S. army presence in Okinawa.

The central authorities’s growth fund for the reason that reversion has improved Okinawa’s infrastructure however the progress of native trade that was largely hampered in the course of the U.S. rule remains to be largely restricted to tourism.

Today, Okinawa’s common family earnings is the bottom and its unemployment is the best of Japan’s 47 prefectures. If land taken by the U.S. army is returned to the prefecture for different use, it might produce thrice extra earnings for Okinawa than the island now makes from bases, Tamaki mentioned not too long ago.

Okinawan authorities frequently face denials by the united statesside in felony and environmental investigations.



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