February 23, 2011
US for OKINAWA Statement
WWF-Japan and JUCON (Japan-US Citizens for Okinawa Network) Press Conference:
Halt the Construction of U.S. Military Helicopter Landing Pads that Destroy Biodiversity and Threaten Local Residents
Needless to say, as an American citizen, I find it ironic that at a time when the government of my country is urging countries in the Middle East to respect democracy, it is continuing to collude with the Japanese government to deny the people of Okinawa their right to the same.
Under the cloak of “lightening” the burden of military bases on Okinawa, Washington and Tokyo have promised to give back a portion of the land that has been appropriated from Okinawa in exchange for building a U.S. megabase in Henoko and 6 more large helicopter landing pads in Takae. Both of these areas have fragile biodiversity found only in Okinawa that will inevitably suffer great destruction as a result of these plans.
To us, the promise being made to Okinawa sounds like telling a man you will give him back an arm you have cut off only as long as you can remove his leg. How can the U.S. administration ask Okinawa to accept this kind of outrageous demand, when Americans—myself included—would never allow it? How can Tokyo politicians and officials call for this when they know people in mainland Japan would reject? Why is the voice of Okinawans not being reflected in Washington-Tokyo policies?
Another guise being used in this issue is the threat of North Korea. The U.S. has more than 800 military bases around the world, a stockpile of nearly 10,000 nuclear weapons, countless conventional weapons, and the largest navy in the world. American navy battle fleet tonnage greater than that of the next 13 largest navies alone combined. And yet, we are expected to believe that we can't face North Korea—an impoverished country smaller than many U.S. states that doesn't have a single military base outside of its border--without the construction of yet more helipads in Takae and an immense base in Henoko.
Clearly, the greatest threat in this matter is not arising from North Korea. On the contrary, it comes from officials in Washington and Tokyo who are flagrantly violating democracy; who are willing to destroy yet more of the Earth's biodiversity at a time when we are starting to keenly realize how much we need it to survive as a species ourselves; who are generating more unnecessary military buildup that profits a few while the health, education and other social structures of the rest of us crumble.
As a representative of U.S. and other citizens from around the world, I call for an end to the irresponsible actions of these American and Japanese officials. It's time for them to start carrying out their duty as representatives in service of democracy, as well as of peace and regional and global sustainability. Clearly, people worldwide are calling for new changes to old harmful policies, and the time has come for Washington and Tokyo to begin listening. Build peace, not more helipads in Okinawa.