US envoy to Japan slammed over Okinawa base remarks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 December, 2015, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 December, 2015, 4:47pm

A group of 70 American people including noted filmmaker Oliver Stone criticised Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Tuesday for her backing of a contentious US-Japan plan to relocate a Marine Corps base within Okinawa.

The Marines’ Air Station Futenma “must be closed, but moving it to Henoko isn’t the solution,” the group said in a statement referring to the bilaterally agreed but locally opposed relocation site, adding, “It merely shifts the problem to a less conspicuous location.”

Kennedy told the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo last week that the plan to move the main function of the Futenma airfield from a densely populated urban area in Ginowan to a new facility in the Henoko coastal area of Nago, both in Okinawa, is “the best of any other plans that were considered.”

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Her statement is “a threat, an insult and a challenge for the vast majority of Okinawans who are vehemently opposed to the (relocation) plan,” the group said.

The group urged Kennedy to reread a speech her father John F. Kennedy delivered in 1963 at American University in which he rejected a “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war”.

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The 70 signers of the latest statement include scholars, peace advocates, journalists and a former senator.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, elected to oppose the plan to relocate the Futenma base within his southern island prefecture, has lately been involved in a court battle with the Japanese government over his attempt to block the ongoing preparatory work to construct a replacement airfield in the sea.

The Japanese and US governments agreed to the relocation plan as a way to reduce the burden on Okinawa, which already hosts the bulk of US military facilities in Japan, while maintaining security deterrence in the region.