The Continious Disrespct of the Japanese People by the U.S military

In two previous blogs, “It’s Time to Shut Down the U.S Marine Base in Okinawa” and “A Followup on Okinawa”, I talked about the ongoing issues regarding the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture and the problems the base is causing the island’s citizens. From crime to propellers and windows falling off of military aircraft flying over peoples’ homes and schools. The U.S government has taken a passive approach on this issue, more or less ignoring the concerns of Okinawans and the Japanese government has maintained the stance that the base is vital for security in the region, but has stated that the U.S military should make some minor changes in regards to flying over populated areas. The government of Okinawa has passed resolutions to have the base closed and has asked for aircraft to cease flying above their towns. These resolutions have been ignored.

Now, as if to add insult to injury a U.S F-16 fighter jet dumped fuel tanks into a lake in the Northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. The lake is a vital fishing spot for the citizens of the prefecture, especially for clams. The jet took off from the Misawa Air Base in the same prefecture and shortly after an engine fire occurred, resulting in the two fuel tanks being dropped.

Although no injuries were reported, a Japanese fishing boat was 400 meters away, less than a mile. They reported the incident to local authorities long before the U.S made any acknowledgement. The tanks were reported to be 5 meters in length or just over 16 feet. One fisherman who witnessed the incident noted the smell of oil. The incident resulted in an oil slick forming which has, for now, closed the lake to fishing operations until it is determined safe to fish once again. While the fuel tanks were being recovered, the road to the lake was closed by local police. Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura stated that is “regrettable” that the incident has effected clam fishing operations and that the U.S should compensate the fisherman for their losses.

Is it not bad enough when propellers and windows are falling from the sky over peoples’ homes without fuel tanks being dropped into their lakes? The outdated U.S military occupation of Japan has over the course of years, especially the past several months, caused so many problems for the Japanese people, and the U.S government does nothing more than offer apologies but never takes any action to stop flying over populated areas or to close its bases. What would the people of the Aomori prefecture do if their water was so polluted by U.S military accidents and the clams were no longer safe to eat? Would the U.S help them or just apologize? The U.S, in my opinion, has no right to be in Japan and has no right to continuously endanger the lives of Japanese civilians. Again, what would Americans say if a foreign power were doing these things on our soil? We would be angry and demanding change, so why does the U.S continue to ignore the pleas of the people of Japan, continuing their occupation and endangering their lives and livelihoods?

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-16-dumped-fuel-tanks-fishermen-japan-lake-53211100

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/20/national/u-s-fighter-jet-dumps-fuel-tanks-aomori-prefecture-lake-engine-fire/

Image retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-fighter-jet-okinawa-japan-fuel-tanks-lake-ogawara-near-fishermen/

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A Followup on Okinawa

On February 1 I wrote a piece on this blog about the growing controversy over the U.S Marine base in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. That piece detailed the history of the base and the poor behavior and criminal acts of U.S Marines and staff stationed at the base over the years, as well as the recent accidents involving U.S aircraft that puts the residents of the prefecture in danger. I mentioned that the Japanese people want the base to be closed and that the base should be closed based on the grounds of Japanese sovereignty. However; it is unlikely that the base will be shut down due to the Trump Administration’s tough stance on North Korea. Recently there have been talks between the U.S and Japanese governments to relocate the base but in the midst of these talks, more aircraft accidents have taken place.

On February 9 a large piece of a U.S Osprey (photo of this craft is the featured image of this article) was found drifting near the prefecture by local police and the Japanese Defense Ministry bureau.  Not long after its discovery, the U.S Marine Corps confirmed that it was, in fact, part of an engine inlet which fell off of the tilt-rotor aircraft as it was in flight. The piece weighs just over 28 pounds or 13 kg. Once again, the prefectural government has asked the U.S to keep the MV-22 Osprey aircraft grounded. This particular craft belonged to U.S Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa’s main island.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told Japanese media that he believes the U.S military may have known about the situation prior to the inlet being discovered by Japanese officials as the Osprey in question made an emergency landing on the island that day. Later in the day, the U.S military had admitted that the landed Osprey had lost the piece in question.  Masanori Tamaki, 61, the head of the Ikei residents’ association, told the Japanese Times, “The same thing will happen again and again as long as our airspace is controlled by the U.S. military. Is Japan really an independent state?” This, of course, is not the only incident involving an Osprey as of late. The aircraft is also very noisy which is a nuisance to the prefecture’s residents.

NHK World reported that it is occurrences such as this that led to the Okinawa prefectural assembly to unanimously pass a resolution that calls for the U.S military to cease all flights over private property. The resolution also calls for any accidents to be publicized and that the U.S military should be removed completely from the country. The prefectural assembly will be sending the resolution to the US embassy, the US military in Japan, and the commanders at the Futenma base.

Relocation

On February 4 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he plans on going ahead with the controversial move to relocate the U.S Marine base from Futenma to nearby Nago which has a population of 60,000. The call from Abe to move ahead with this plan comes after the election of Nago Mayor  Taketoyo Toguchi who was backed by Abe’s ruling party and has supported the plan. Toguchi took office on February 4 defeating his opponent, incumbent Susumu Inamine who opposed the relocation of the base and called for its closure. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that exit polls showed that 30 percent of Nago voters were against the base being moved to their city, but may have voted for Toguchi due to the fact that they are exhausted and tired of fighting a losing battle to oppose it.

Calling for a nation’s sovereignty and the removal of a foreign military is difficult when the country’s own government is in favor, for whatever reasons of that military remaining and when the country’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the base’s relocation in 2016. The Japanese and American governments are not listening to the wishes of the people who call the island home and whether or not Japan is a sovereign nation due to the decade’s old American occupation still remains a question.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/10/national/part-u-s-osprey-found-floating-off-okinawa/#.WoXrgiXwbIV

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180119_18/

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Okinawa-local-election-signals-fatigue-toward-fighting-new-base

image retrieved from http://www.boeing.com/defense/v-22-osprey/