(Okinawa part is detailed under a separate title)
U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa
Main U.S. Bases in Mainland Japan
Main U.S Military Bases in Okinawa
U.S Bases in Okinawa
Environmental Problems Caused by U.S Military Bases
Yokosuka Base and Atugi Base in Kanagawa Prefecture
the Dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq! 12.7
Komaki Local Meeting Appeal
U.S Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station
U.S Army Akizuki Ammunition Depot and Our Activities
U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa
Ichiyo Muto (People’s Plan Study Groups)
There are approximately 90 U.S. military facilities including major military bases throughout mainland Japan and Okinawa, with an area total of 3,130,000 sq.meters, 75% of which are in Okinawa. They are concentrated in a few areas (prefectures), 37 in Okinawa, 15 in Kanagawa, 11 in Nagasaki, and 7 in Tokyo. About 52,000 U.S. troops are stationed in these bases, 26,000 in mailand and 25,000 in Okinawa (2001). In mainland Japan, the largest contingent is the air force with 6,600 and that in Okinawa marines (15,500).
The U.S. armed forces in Japan, together with U.S. forces in South Korea, are subjected to the Pacific Command located in Hawaii though the Command located at Yokota Airbase in Tokyo also functions as an auxiliary command for the forces deployed all over Japan. The forces deployed to Japan are not a separate complete military unit but integral part of the Pacific Force as the largest of the four U.S. joint forces with a vast jurisdiction extending from the U.S. western coast and the whole of the Pacific Ocean through the Indian Ocean to the eastern coasts of Africa.
The main U.S. bases in mainland Japan include Misawa airbase in Aomori Prefecture up in the north of Honshu Island, Yokota Airbase in Tokyo, Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture, Atsugi base in the same prefecture, Iwakuni marine base near Hiroshima, and Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki Prefecture. Also there are munitions depots, communication bases, port facilities, warehouses, military barracks, residential estates.
1960 Security Treaty and SOFA
Defeating Japan in WWII in 1945, the United States, placed Japan under occupation, took over Japanese military bases and used them as the frontline bases of the Cold War. These bases were intensely used in the 1950-53 Korean War as the attack posts in the immediate rear of the war front. The U.S. in the first years of occupation wanted to demilitarize Japan as its potential military adversary and drafted the postwar pacifist Constitution which was welcomed by Japanese people, but it reversed its policy by 1950 and ordered remilitarization and created a “police reserve force” that later developed into the world’s budgetary second largest Self-Defense Forces.
The U.S. placed Okinawa under its direct military rule, willfully confiscated Okinawan people’s land for construction of huge strategic bases in main island of Okinawa and nearby Iejima Island, centering on the Kadena airfield.
In 1951, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed, ending occupation for mainland Japan in 1952, but that treaty separated Okinawa from Japanese sovereignty and surrendered it to U.S. military rule. Okinawa remained U.S. military colony until 1972 when it was “reverted” to Japan.
Simultaneously with the peace treaty, another treaty called Japan-U.S. security treaty was signed, allowing continued presence of U.S military forces in the Japanese territory. U.S. continued to hold and freely use the bases secured under occupation.
The 1952 security treaty was revised in 1960 into a treaty of relatively bilateral nature, to jointly meet armed attacks at either party and for security in the Far East. The treaty stated, “for the purpose of contributing to the security of Japan and the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East, the United States is granted the use of its land, air, and naval forces of facilities and areas in Japan.” This treaty is up to now the legal ground of the stationing of U.S. forces and U.S. use of bases in Japan. Simultaneously with the security treaty, the status of force agreement was made, giving privileges and prerogatives to the U.S. military personnel and use of Japanese facilities.
Though SOFA states that the U.S. bears all expenditures incurred by the maintenance of U.S. armed forces in Japan, the Japanese government since 1987 began to meet increasing portions of U.S. costs, reaching more than $6 billion in 2001 in “host nation support.”
During and immediately after the occupation, expansion of U.S. military bases was met by vigorous opposition movements of local communities with the national support of progressive movements such as students’ and workers. The movements successfully prevented base expansion or base area enclosure in most major cases (Uchinada, Myogi, Tachikawa, all in the 1950s). Local farmers’ opposition movement to U.S. and Japanese live shelling exercises on the skirts of Mt. Fuji, begun in the 1950s, still continues.
The 1960 struggle against the conclusion of the revised security treaty was the largest national political struggle against military ties with the U.S. and all anti-base movements participated in it.
During the Vietnam War period, new peace and anti-war movements grew rapidly, and their action was frequently targeted against U.S. military bases, in many cases through direct action. The best known is the whole community action against U.S. Sagamihara weapons depot from which tanks were being transported to Vietnam. Students’ and citizens’ movements massively mobilized in this period to protest the entry of U.S. aircraft carriers, deployment of new weapons (Tomahawk missiles etc.)
After the Vietnam War ended, anti-base movement has been sustained mainly by local action groups around the base areas, which are loosely networked across the country and working to support Okinawa people’s anti-base struggles. The forms and styles of action are manifold and wide-ranged. Aside from general mobilization and street demonstration on the issues of bases, some of the collective action styles include:
- Monitoring the activities of the base such as troops movement on a daily basis and reporting to the community and other anti-base groups (e.g. Yokota airbase, extremely low altitude flights monitored by widespread networks)
- Demonstrating, picketing, over particular action of the U.S. military, most typically activists riding rubber boats demonstrate at sea against entry and/or departure of U.S. fleet on combat missions (e.g. Yokosuka, Kure, Sasebo)
- Conducting sustained campaigns of local community groups, including litigation, against particular hazards such as noise and pollution (Atsugi base by groups in Yamato city)
- Community-wide sustained campaigns opposing new U.S. base-related projects, using local elections (Zushi city community opposing the construction of U.S. military housing estate at the cost of national preserve; local movement elected opposition mayors)
- Using powers of local autonomy to restrict free use of facilities by U.S. military (most typically the Kobe formula – Kobe municipality bans entry of ships into Kobe port unless they previous present no-nuclear weapon certificates; because of this system, no U.S. warships have been able to enter the port so far).
- Filing lawsuits about the unconstitutionality of Japan’s “host nation support” for U.S. military (Tokyo and Osaka);
- Ad placing campaigns on issues of bases, military exercises, withdrawal U.S. marines (Yufuin group’s ad in New York Times etc.)
=== People’s Plan Study Group ===
Address: Sunrise Shinjyuku 3F, 2-4-15 Okubo, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0072 JAPAN
Tel/Fax: +81-3-5273-8362 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://www.jca.apc.org/ppsg/
(The above refers mainly to mainland Japan; the development in Okinawa is explained separately)
Main U.S. Bases in Mainland Japan
Main U.S Military Bases in Okinawa
U.S Bases in Okinawa
Masahiro Shimada (Anti-War Landowners’ Association for the Protection of Rights and Properties)
1. Overall Picture−Its History
Okinawa is an archipelago located between Taiwan and Japan. It consists of some 160 islands extended in an area of 400 km. from south to north and 1,000 km from east to west. Of these 160 islands, 49 are inhabited with the population of 130 million. The subtropical climate makes Okinawa a pleasant place to live with flowers all round the year. Okinawa was invaded in 1609 by a feudal Japanese clan ruling Satsuma in Kyushu. In the following 400 years, Okinawa tried to survive while threatened by the vested interests of the big nation. Now Japan imposes area-wise 75% of the US bases it hosts on Okinawa, which is only 0.6% of its territory. The reality is an eloquent expression of the marginalization of Okinawa by Japan and the colonial relationships on it maintained by Japan and the US. At present, plans are being carried out to construct yet new bases (Henoko Marine Base, the transfer of Naha Naval Base to Urasoe Port (for capacity expansion), and facilities for training for urban hostilities). This is causing Okinawa people’s anger.
Battle of Okinawa
The battle of Okinawa was the last ground battle fought between the US Forces and Japanese Armed Forces. After intense air raids and shelling from warships, US Forces began landing from the Kerama Islands in the west of the Main Island in late March, 1945. Thus “the hell of hells” as described by the US Troops began. The 110,000 Japanese troops including the 35,000 untrained recruiters assigned to defend Okinawa with poor weapons had to cope with the U.S. force of 540,000 with overwhelmingly superiority. 180,000 US soldiers landed on Okinawa and began the battle that destroyed every single thing on the island during the subsequent three months. With this “Iron Typhoon” more than 200,000 soldiers and civilians died including one quarter of the Okinawa population.,US casualties counted 12,000. The US Forces began constructing new bases on the island in order to prepare the attack on the Main Island of Japan. This was the beginning of the US program of using Okinawa as its forward base for the containment of the spread of communism. But bases and buildings constructed in the initial perid of US occupation were simple and provisional.
Construction of Permanent Bases
In the 1950s, the construction of permanent bases began with a special budget earmarked for the purpose. In 1952, San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed simultaneously with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. In return for Japan’s independence, the U.S. placed the archipelago south of Amami Oshima Island under its administration. In 1953, the Amami Islands were returned to Japan but Ryukyus were retained under U.S. administration, and Okinawa was left with the US bases all over it. The establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea alarmed the US as signs of rapid expansion of communism in Asia. The Cold War accelerated the consolidation of the bases in Okinawa. This also signaled yet another beginning of the history of sufferings of the people of Okinawa.
Confiscation of land (the Whole Island Struggle)
The outbreak of the Korean War further drove the US Forces to construct new bases. Though the US had practically converted the whole island into one big base, the Korean War urged the US to construct stronger forward bases to control the whole of Asia. People of Okinawa who had barely recuperated from the “Iron Typhoon” had to face another typhoon. Land confiscation began in a village called Isahama and spread all over. In some cases the US prohibited farming under the excuse of mosquito outbreak. The paddy fields and farms carefully cultivated were bulldozed before harvesting. At Isahama, at dawn fully armed soldiers arrived with bulldozers and filled fields with sand from the ocean. The green rice plants were buried in salt water and sand. People who were not allowed to harvest resisted but in vain. In Iejima, several American soldiers entered a house and asked for matches to set fire and the house was burnt while the residents did not have time to take their belongings out. People deprived of their basic rights to live went around the island asking for support. Their action was dubbed “Beggars’ March” as the marchers had nothing at all to own and suffered from a terrible inhuman situation. Some of the dislocated people, after moving from place to place in the island, migrated to South America. The land confiscation begun during the Korean War continued to the Vietnam War. The period was characterized as the period of people’s struggle for land.
U.S Rule of Okinawa
The presence of the US bases was the only problem Okinawa suffered from. The US military controlled judiciary, legislature, administration and economy, and that enabled the U.S. to arbitrarily confiscate people’s land. Okinawa did not have its own jurisdiction. The US owned the majority of share of banks and electricity. The governor, the supreme administrator, was appointed by the US Force. In June, 1945, after the Battle of Okinawa ended with the extermination of the Okinawa Garrison, the US Navy began ruling Okinawa. In July, 1946, the US Army took the navy government over. With a view to introducing an American style democratic governance to replace Japan’s emperor system, the U.S. held in September, 1945, elections of mayors and city councils. Woman suffrage was recognized. The army government lasted till 1950 when USCAR （US Administration of Ryukyu Islands）was set up. With this, the policy to construct bases was intensified. USCAR arbitrarily created legal systems to forcefully confiscate land. Their highhandedness caused much anger and protest from the people. Anti US sentiment spread all over the island. To handle this situation, the US introduced a high commissioner system to rule Okinawa. This system lasted until 1972 when Okinawa was returned to Japan. The last high commissioner was the sixth. The economic system of Okinawa became totally dependent on the bases. In 1958 the currency was changed to US dollars. Till then, the currency was B-yen which was a kind of military scrip.
2. Return of the Bases
For its size and functions the US bases in Okinawa are a monster in Asia. In 1945, the bases were meant to attack Japan. With the rise of socialist states, the bases became a stronghold against communism. They were forward assault bases during the Korean War. During the Vietnam War, Okinawa served as a crucial forward supply base. This is what Okinawa was till 1972. With the demand of each situation and reality, the bases in Okinawa changed its functions provided with new equipment, facilities and new deployment of military personnel. During the war against Japan, the only task needed was to fix the existing airfields to fly B29 bombers to the mainland. Much energy was spent to handle the civilian population, many of them taken as prisoners of war. With the rise of the People’s Republics of China and North Korea, the circumstances changed. Bases were strengthened as an anti-Communist stronghold, accompanied by adjustment of functions in terms of equipment and force posting. Nuclear weapons, ground-to-air missiles, new communication systems, and fighter plane squadrons were introduced. The army intensified tank trainings and live test-shelling of Nike ground-to-air missiles targeting China was also conducted. Under the heavy impact of the Korean War, plans to construct stronger bases were energetically pressed forward.
While the USCAR wanted to get its American style democracy accepted in Okinawa, the people did not swallow it, but on the contrary intensified their resistance against land confiscation. Faced by this situation, the US intensified its oppressive military rule, claiming that Okinawans were not mature enough for self government.
Under this iron-fist rule land confiscation continued. As the U.S. launched the Vietnam War, Okinawa was turned into the launching base of B52 bombers to attack North Vietnam. Maki Supply Base became the biggest logistic base in this war, from which war materials, military vehicles and tanks were daily shipped to Vietnam and into which tanks broken in Vietnam were carried for repairs. The Vietnam War became part and parcel of Okinawa people’s daily life.
Throughout this period, Okinawa severed as the largest anti-Communist Cold War fortress in Asia equipped with powerful antennas and ultrasonic spy planes. The Nixon Doctrine was declared, but the bases in Okinawa continued to be the U.S.’s strategic outpost in Asia.
The return of Okinawa to Japan in 1972 was arranged in exchange for the Japanese government’s guarantee that the strategic functions of Okinawa for the U.S. would be preserved. Even so, Okinawa faced a new situation. The rule of Okinawa shifted from the early military rule to the direct U.S. rule and then to the Japanese rule. The US presence in Okinawa now became one taken care of by its host country, Japan, based on the Japan-US Security Treaty.
The Japanese government guarantees that the U.S. would continue to securely use the bases in Okinawa and shared the common understanding with the U.S. that people’s demands should be met as long as this guarantee was honored. This agreement provided that nuclear weapons be removed from Okinawa at the expense of the Japanese government.
Also, the army units in Okinawa were replaced by marines. The principal U.S. forces in Okinawa shifted to the Air Force based in Kadena airfield, marines and army special forces. The Japanese Diet passed a resolution calling for the reduction and consolidation of the US bases in Okinawa.
The presence of the marines has come as a further burden on Okinawa people. They alternated on shore and on sea duty on the Seventh Fleet every six month. The marines are storm troopers, and they proved a new threat to local people. Militarily, their operation covers a vast area from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa through Australia to the Pacific Ocean. With the joint exercises with Japan’s Self Defense Forces, the marines are equipped to respond to any occurrence from the Korean peninsula to the Middle East. The aircraft in Okinawa was shifted from F4 Phantom to F15 Eagle and E3A planes with emphasis from air-to-ground attacks to control of the air. Also, intensified were reconnaissance flights by SR71 along the continental coasts. The standard uniform was change from the jungle-camouflaged combat fatigue to a brown uniform designed for desert battles. The marines are an armed entity proud to go anywhere on the planet. The US base in Okinawa looms as a patron god to protect the US interests in Asia. At the same time, the US presence in Okinawa has much to do with Japan’s militarization.
The heavier its presence, the more serious the danger the U.S. military poses to the people in Okinawa. Okinawa people experienced increasing cases of U.S. military-caused accidents and crimes. The rape of a girl in 1995 was a typical example. The incident happened just when the Japanese government was examining plans to help overhaul 50-year old U.S. bases in Okinawa into modernized, function-rational bases at the Japanese government cost. Under the impact of the rape incident and the rising anger of the Okinawa people, the Japanese and U.S. governments created a structure called SACO (Special Action Committee) for readjustment and consolidation of the bases in Okinawa. The local government of Okinawa made it clear that no such plan would be accepted by the Okinawa people unless it included reduction of the bases. With this pressure, SACO had to discuss adjustment, consolidation, and reduction. SACO submitted its final report in December, 1996, but the report did not refer to reduction but proposes moving the locations of bases within the island. The needed reduction did not occur. The major plan that came from SACO was the construction a huge offshore marine base with 2,500 meter-runways off the coast of Henoko, part of Nago city, as the alternative to Futenma base that was to be abolished. The intention is to help marines to unify the functions of an airport, marine’s port of sally, and training facilities by the establishment of this new base. Though the U.S. communication units are withdrawing, the Special Forces, the Marines and the Air Force are being strengthened.
3. People’s Struggle and Resistance
Struggle on the Prefectural Road No 104
From 1973, the U.S. military closed prefectural road No. 104 that passes through Camp Hansen for firing exercises using 105mm and 155 mm howitzers. Live shells were shot over the road. The residents denied the use of the road indispensable to their daily life organized protest action against this exercise, joined by peace organizations and labor unions. Finally they entered the impact area and forced the U.S. to suspend the exercises. The strategy worked and the protesters continued occupying the impact area, sometimes braving the danger from the shells dropping around them. In September, 1976, the movement was forced to change the strategy when some of the members were arrested under the special criminal law earlier enacted for the implementation of the security treaty. The struggle, however, continued until the locations of the shelling exercises were transferred to five different places in mainland Japan.
2.4 General Strike
On November 19, 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, a B52 bomber loaded with bombs on its way to North Vietnam crashed right after taking off the Kadena Base. The incident gave a rise to a large campaign to demand the withdrawal of B52 bombers from Okinawa. The US government, however, insisted that this was not a major accident. The Japanese government stated that it had no intention to demand of the U.S. the removal of B52 bombers. In Okinawa, many protest actions mainly organized by labor unions continued. For the first time, the Union of Military Base Workers (Zengunro) came up with a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the bases. It became clear that neither the US government nor the Japanese government had a correct understanding of the people of Okinawa. As people’s awareness about the critical reality of Okinawa grew stronger, many local governments of the islands came up with resolutions against the bases. In 1968, the Okinawa people obtained the right to elect their administrative representative and Mr. Yara Chobyo, president of militant teachers union, was elected the first governor. Up to then, the chief executive officer was appointed by the U.S. As local people’s organizations, women’s movement and other groups continued demanding the withdrawal of B52, many unions decided to organize a strike. The “Prefectural People’s Joint Struggle Coalition for Life” was formed by over 140 organizations and the struggle headed toward a general strike. The US issued High Commissioner’s Order to ban the strike, but that was counterproductive. As the struggle spread all over the islands, the Japanese government had to take heed of it. The General Council of Trade Unions of Japan (Sohyo), the largest labor federation in mainland Japan, also began to take action. But this formation got split over the issue of general strike. Those against general strike, claiming that an informal commitment had been made to give the date of B52 withdrawal, maintained that the governor’s position should be protected. Others insisted on the need of the strike. The protest action scheduled for February 4 was carried out without this division overcome.
Struggle of Military Base Workers (Zengunro)
The struggle of those who work at the US bases was another threat to the US Forces. The Union was much affected by mass dismissals of its members, but they rose in struggle for two demands -- the removal of the bases and cancellation of mass dismissal, apparently demands contradicting each other. The Zengunro did not have the right to wage a strike and so resorted to the legal tactic of simultaneous paid leave taking. But that developed into a 48 hour strike, and then to 120 hour strike. The gate to the base’s nuclear weapons area was closed by the striking picketers, who were threatened by armed GIs. The situation was extremely tense. The US Forces prohibited the soldiers from going out of the bases. Merchants doing business for GIs, upset by the loss of customers, stoned the strikers. The incident showed the complexity of the Okinawa situation.
On December 20, 1970, a vehicle driven by an American soldier hit an Okinawan. The Military Police who rushed to the site paid no attention to the victim and tried to carry away the car to the base. Around 1,000 people surrounded them and protested. The frightened MP started fired warning shots. As the angry people closed in, the MPs ran away firing shots. The soldier responsible for the incident was beaten up. More and more people gathered and started burning the vehicles nearby such as army trucks, MP jeeps and cars with yellow plates that indicated the US ownership. Towards the midnight, the crowd kept growing. One group burned police boxes while the other went to Kadena Base. They broke the gate and set fire on the filing cabinets and the American school. Armed soldiers fired tear gas. Helicopters also sprayed tear gas over the masses. This group was pushed outside by the armed soldiers while the other headed towards the U.S. headquarters. By the dawn, they all dispersed. Some 80 cars were destroyed. 19 were arrested and many wounded. The police applied the crime of riot but could not prosecute any of them. They were charged with other crimes and punished. There was no damage recorded to persons or properties of Okinawa.
In those days, 63% of Koza (present Okinawa city) was occupied by the bases. Koza’s economy was 80% dependent on the bases. On one hand, Koza flourished “thanks to” the war in Vietnam. On the other hand, Koza suffered much by the crimes committed by the GIs. Koza Riot in a way was a natural outcome of this situation. The US government still remembers the fear caused by Koza riot. Though it was a spontaneous riot, there was a certain order and discipline observed by all who joined it.
There was another incident that indirectly led people to riot. On September 18, 1970, a drunken GI driver killed a woman in Itoman-city in the south of the main island. The military court found him innocent on December 11 by reasons of lack of evidence. After 1970, violent crimes committed by American soldiers rose to 1,000 every year. They included homicides, rapes and burglaries. The number of U.S. soldier-caused traffic accidents was over 3000 a year. All the crimes were handled by the MPs who concealed evidence. The accused were tried by closed military courts and declared either innocent or given minor punishments.
Struggle to Demand the Withdrawal of Poisonous Gas
In July, 1969, the leak of VX nerve gas from a container in Kadena Base was discovered. The discovery led people to organize action. The US Forces organized a plan called “Operation Red Hat” to transfer the gas to Johnston Island in the Pacific. On December 20, the day before the Koza Riot, there was a big gathering of the Okinawa people to demand withdrawal of poisonous gas. All these incidents served as the background against which the Koza riot exploded.
Association of Anti-War Landowners
After 1972 when Okinawa was turned over to Japan, more and more people of Okinawa began articulating their firm conviction that the US should not continue using their land. This was the time to take back the land “plundered at gun points and with bulldozers.” As Okinawa became part of Japan, the land unilaterally confiscated during the U.S. rule now became subject to regulations linked to the Security Treaty. This meant that from now on it was the Japanese government that was to conclude contracts with the owners of the land tracts used as bases and then lease them to the U.S. When it came to the making of contracts, over 30,000 landowners refused to sign contacts. This action led to the formation of the Anti-War Landowners’ Association for the Protection of Rights and Properties. The Japanese government, however, ignoring the will of the Okinawa people, passed a fixed-term law (five years) called “the law of temporary use of public land” that allowed the US Forces and Japan’s Self Defense Forces to use land for their bases without the consent of the landowners. People criticized the Japanese government that accepted the confiscation by the US Forces by bulldozers and armed violence. The government tried to complete all contracts in the prescribed period of five years, but found itself in a bizarre situation because of the resistance put up by the anti-war landowners. They refused to sign the contracts, and so the U.S. occupation of their land areas lost legal grounds. May 15, 1977 was the last day of the term of the legislation, and the Diet was in a chaotic situation over what to do with this issue. The landowners picketed the US bases and those of the Self Defense Forces in Okinawa. The SDF having lost the legal base had to open their base gates to the proper owners. The landowners since their land was confiscated in 1945, were able to touch it after 32 years. They touched the land, enjoyed picnic lunch and felt as if the long lost children suddenly had come back to them. The US opened gates in some bases. The proper owners entered there and planted vegetables. They had been their farmlands before confiscation. US soldiers stood by watcging. The situation in Kadena Base, the largest in Far East, was different. The gates were firmly closed and refused the entry of the landowners. The illegal occupation lasted four days. The Japanese Diet, once again ignoring the will of the landowners, extended the term of the law. The landowners felt that they had done something important to neutralize Japan-US Security Treaty. Their struggle based on their conviction that no piece of land should be rented for war had a strong impact on both governments. The experience of the Four Days consolidated the anti-war struggle of Okinawa.
The anti-war landowners have since been under the tenacious pressure of the government to change their attitude. The struggle continues at the court but the judicial system of this country is also hard on people who demand justice. The number of anti-war landlords has visibly decreased since. To support the remaining anti-war landowners, the Association of One-Tsubo Landowners has been formed. Their struggle continues.
4. Wars in which Bases in Okinawa were Used as Mission Launching Bases
Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Invasion of Afghanistan, and Iraq War. (During the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Iran, C-130 Transport planes were sent from Okinawa in the hostage rescue operation. The mission was a failure).
Violence against Women under Long-Term U.S Military Station in Okinawa
Suzuyo Takazato (Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence)
1. Impacts on Women and Children by the US Military Bases in the Community
The Status of Forces Agreement stipulated in the Article 6 of the US-Japan Security Treaty assures favorable conditions of US military personnel including freedom of movement outside the bases. The US military bases occupy about 20% of the main island of Okinawa where 27,000 soldiers are stationed together with their families and dependents of more than 20,000. Their military training, lives, education opportunities and recreations are safely provided on the bases guarded by the fences and gates. Contrary to their assured safety, lives of women and children of local community have been targeted of violence for the past 58 years.
A. The end of WWII (1945) to the eve of Korean War – Rampant and indiscriminate crimes against women
When the Battle of Okinawa, a fierce battle described as “ iron storm” was over, the US soldiers started to randomly attack women in Okinawa.
Two to six soldiers abduct one woman at gun or knife point.
After gang-raping a victim, she would often be given to other groups of soldiers to gang-rap.
Soldiers did not hesitate to kill or severely injure those who tried to help victims.
Assaults can happen any places including in the field, on streets, around wells, by the water, in front of families.
Assaults often showed brutality. Women with infants on her back were raped and killed. Victims’ ages range from 9 months old to 60’s.
Victims gave birth. In the four years after the end of the World War II, 450 children were identified to have been fathered by the GIs.
Perpetrators were mostly not apprehended, left unpunished.
B. Vietnam War – Violence was turned to women working around the bases.
Women working around the bases were often the target of violence by the soldiers who returned from the battle fields of the Vietnam War. They brought back fear and anger from the battle fields. Rape cases were rampant. Three to four women were strangled to death yearly. In the survey conducted in 1969, about 7,400 women worked in the sex industry. These women earned dollars in the still economically poor society. They were forced to sell sex because of a large amount of loan imposed on them in the forced managed prostitution. Many of these women experienced to be nearly strangled to death more than once, experience that left many of them suffering from trauma.
C. Present: date rape―“consensual” violence
After the end of the Vietnam War, the US military changed its policy from drafting to volunteer. In reality, however, volunteer only induced “poverty draft” in which poor population such as African American and Hispanic increased. The economic power declined. The rape by three US soldiers in September, 1995 shows a close proximity between the bases and local communities. Soldiers meet women at night clubs or at the beach, invite them to the bases where they can go shopping at PX for better prices. They invite them to their luxurious apartments on the bases which was build by the “sympathy” budget that the Japanese government provides This is how the crime of “date rapes” are committed now, in the disguise of “consensus.”
2. Impacts of September 11 Incident
As the training and security of the bases intensified, crimes committed by the US soldiers increased after 9.11. Changes within the operation caused by the Wars on Afghanistan and Iraq clearly have affected their transfer and training. For example, in the rape and assault case in August 2003, the perpetrator could have gone back to the US had there been no war, but his station was extended by 6 months, during the time, he committed the crime.
3. The Most Serious Concerns Faced by the Cmmunity
Sixty percent of the US military stationed in Okinawa consists the Marine Corps. Eighty percent of the Marines are young soldeirs, between 18 to 22 years old, who are stationed in Okinawa for only 6 months. Sixty percent of the crimes by the US military is committed by the Marines. They bring young women to the bases easily where more crimes are committed. Contrary to increased poverty among young soldiers, they enjoy luxurious facilities built by the sympathy budge of the Japanese government. Current conditions make it more difficult for victims to accuse perpetrators.
In recent cases, perpetrators of assaults and attempted assaults tend to be increasingly confrontational at trials. In the assault case of June 2001, in which a soldier raped an Okinawan woman at a parking lot of a commercial area, the perpetrator, a special service unit soldier, who has been stationed in Okinawa for four years, never withdrew his insistence on “consensual sex.” The verdict of the Japanese court admitted the victim’s assertion that she was raped, yet, the difficulty faced by the victim in this case implies a possibility of unwillingness of victims to come forward fearing retaliation by the US military.
4. Local Initiatives
Okinawa Woman Act Against Military Violence have engaged in our own activities as well as solidarity actions with “the citizens coalition to remove US bases from Okinawa and to achieve world peace” to which over 30 groups belong.
Women’s transnational networks have developed such as East Asia-US-Puerto Rico Women’s Network against Militarism. This is a movement of women from the United States, the country who sends the troops, and women from host nations of the US troops have worked together to create authentic security system from a perspective of the human rights of women and children, criticizing militarized security.
We have gained deeper and wider recognition of the relationship of violence against women in war time, in the present conflicts, under long-term military station, and around the military bases through working with women in VAWW-NET, International Women’s Tribunal on Military Sexual Slavery Japan held in December 2000, Public Hearing on Crimes Against Women in Recent Wars and Conflicts also held in December 2000.
Due to our actions, the video-link system and supporter system when a victims of sexual violence testifies was adopted at the court.
Younger generations of women have developed community activities.
Issue and Analysis
After 9.11, militarization has been accelerated by the military attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq by the United States. This situation goes against our hope for a world of non-violence and peaceful coexistence. The presence of US military in Okinawa could be even more solidified by the “carrots and stick” of the Japanese government policies: Stick being the Special Measures Law on the land use of the US military that justifies originally unlawful expropriation of the land; carrot being government subsidies to local communities. Militarization of daily lives has also been accelerated.
Existing movements should be further pursued. Also, community development under local initiative, address to create a sustainable coexisting society with respect to diversity should be pursued.
We shall seek for revising SOFA and the US-Japan Security Treaty from a gender perspective. Revising SOFA does not mean acceptance of the US bases on our land. It is to limit violation of the human rights of women and children by the military. If the SOFA should be truly equal between the US and Japan, the bases should not be able to exit. The unequal treatment due to the difference between jurisdictions of the US and Japan should be eliminated.
=== Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence ===
3-29-41-402 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa, 900-0015 Japan
Tel: +81-98-864-1539 Fax: +81-98-869-5933
Environmental Problems Caused by U.S Military Bases
1. International Movement Targeting Environmental Problems Due to US Military Activities
After the Cold War, people of countries and communities hosting US military bases have realized that the negative impact appearing on their health, communities and environment were brought on by US military activities which irresponsibly left military waste and created other environmental problems. Local communities as well as NGOs, in the regions hosting US military bases, such as the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, the US and Vieques-Puerto Rico, have taken courageous steps to organize international grassroots movements to face this issue since the early 1990's.
2. Environmental Issues Originating from US Military Activities in Okinawa
US military installations cause various problems for the local environment.
Because construction of a new base requires a huge undeveloped area, these construction projects have destroyed the natural environment and degraded the invaluable biodiversity including, but not limited to, endangered species among the subtropical islands of Okinawa.
At active bases, US military activities cause various environmental problems. During combat training, live bombing exercises have caused environmental destruction, possible radioactive pollution due to DU weapons, and unexploded ordinances. From the maintenance of aircraft and military vehicles, leaked fuel, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals contained in paints, cleaners and solvents have caused contamination of the soil, air and groundwater. The maintenance of facilities has caused contamination in the air, soil and groundwater with heavy metals contained in paints as well as the PCB in batteries. Even recreational activities, such as skeet shooting, have caused soil to become contaminated with lead. These allegations are not unfounded. At bases that have been closed or are being closed, soil contaminated with hazardous waste has been frequently found. In addition, flight trainings have caused various forms of noise pollution. Moreover, as US military bases occupy huge tracts of land in local communities, they have become obstacles for urban development and local infrastructure.
3. The Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) Issues
Although 58 years have passed since the end of World War II, there are still many US bases on Okinawa. Approximately 75% of the land area used exclusively by US Forces in Japan is located in the Okinawa prefecture, which comprises only 0.6% of the entire land area of Japan. 23,753ha land area, which is about 10.4% of the prefectural land area, is provided for the US military under the US-Japan Security Treaty.
Because SOFA was concluded in 1960, the agreement has no environmental protection provisions and the Japanese government was not given any right to on-site investigations within US military facilities. Moreover, SOFA exempts US military forces from their responsibility to deal with environmental cleanup. The Okinawa Prefectural Government submitted bills to revise SOFA in 1995 and in 2000, which included environmental protection articles, to the Japanese and the US governments. But the Japanese government has preferred operational changes to SOFA rather than amendments to it.
4. Proposal for Concrete International Actions- Making Appropriate National Reports Regarding Military Related Environmental Issues and Joining in the UNEP’s Global Survey
As part of THE PROGRAMME FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND PERIODIC REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FOR THE FIRST DECADE OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (Montevideo programme III), the UNEP, within this year, will start a global survey to gauge how environmental norms, standards and procedures are applied to military activities. At the UNEP Governing Council 2005 to be held in Nairobi, Kenya next year, the interim report of this survey is expected to be presented. It will be a significant opportunity to identify military related environmental issues facing each country and develop environmental policies and legal instruments to cope with those problems internationally.
Yokosuka Base and Atugi Base in Kanagawa Prefecture
Shigeo Kimoto (No to All Bases – Kanagawa Fights!)
1. Outline of U.S Military Bases
A. U.S. fleet activities, Yokosuka (FAC3099) / U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility Yokosuka
Area: 2,358,675 sq. meters (3,240 sq.m privately owned)
Population inside the base areas: Military personnel, dependents (3,700) / Japanese employees (4,300) / Crew
aboard 11 Yokosuka-homeported U.S. vessels (8,700)
The Yokosuka base became what it is in August 1945 as the U.S. armed forces took over the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Yokosuka admiralty port and the Naval shiyard. The base has highgrade ship repair facilities based on advanced shipbuilding skills. The base facilities are constantly renewed and housing estates for military personnel expanded with generous pumping in of the Japanese government’s “host nation support” monies. These are the support for the operation of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Yokosuka is the homeport for 11 U.S. warships. As such it can be characterized as part of a moving aircraft and missile base. The ships operating from Yokosuka have a total of 546 missile cells. In addition to the homeported USS, nuclear submarines visit Yokosuka 15 to 30 times a year. The submarine mothership Frank Cable was assigned to Yokosuka in the summer of 1996 while still homeported at Guam. This ship having within it a submarine repair factory is repairing nuclear subs at Yokosuka. Landing vessels of the marines assigned to Sasebo are also repaired at Yokosuka.
Present Status of the Base (from Yokosuka city website)
The security treaty-based U.S. military facilities within the Yokosuka city area are three facilities (in four places) , with an area of 3,372,000 sq.m, or 3.4% of the whole area of Yokosuka City. Adding to them, the 38 Self-Defense Force facilities, the military facilities occupy 6.2% of the total city area. Most of these bases are located in the city’s most important areas along the coast line and in the port district or else on the flat area suited for inustries, education, and civic activities.
B. Atugi Air Base (FAC3083)
Area: 5,069,118 sq.m. (including 4,503 privately owned land)
Runway: 2,438 meters x 45 meters
Military personnel: 2,480 Japanese employees: 1,050
Atugi-assigned warplanes borne by carriers: Approximately 70
The Atsugi base is known as the place where, after Japan’s defeat, Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander of the occupation forces, alighted. Originally, a air base of the Imperial Navy of Japan, the base was turned to a base used by the U.S. Air Force, and then, after the outbreak of the Korean War, shifted to a U.S. Navy airbase. In 1971, part of the base was transferred to the management of the Japanese Maritime Defense Force and the base as a whole came under the joint control by Japan and the United States. Unlike the Yokota Base in Tokyo and Kadena Base in Okinawa, the Atsugi base air control is in the hands of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
As the war in Vietnam aggravated, major accidents occurred one after another, victimizing neighboring communities. On April 5 1964, a U.S. reconnaissance plane RF8A Crusader, trying to land on Atsugi on a flying mission from Iwakuni base, crashed into a market area in Machida City in the greater Tokyo area, killing four residents and injuring 31. On September 8 the same year, a F8A Crusader fighter plan, immediately after take-off from Atugi airbase, dashed into an iron work in Yamato City, burnt, and killed three sons of the factory owner and injured three others.
According to a checkup by the Kanagawa Prefectural government, U.S. military plane-caused accidents in the prefecture totaled 195 from 1952 through 1996, comprising 62 crashes, 48 crash landings, 56 fallouts of plane parts, and 29 others.
The crash of a RF4B Phantom fighter plane in Midori Ward of Yokohama City on September 27 1977 was particularly tragic as the accident burnt to death two children (1 year and 3 year olds), and causing their mother to die in four years’ time after struggling with heavy burns. This accident seriously injured six others.
C. Yokosuka Home-Ported U.S. Warships
The 7th Fleet flag-ship
LCC19 Blueridge: assault-landing commanding ship, 19,648 tons, carrying 842 crew and 700 soldiers for landing
CV-63 Kitty Hawk Battle Group Ships
(1) Kitty Hawk: aircraft carrier, 83,960 tons, 2,930 crew, 2,480 flying personnel, 70 commanding officers
(2) CG49 Vincence; guided missile-equipped cruiser, 9,407 tons, 358 crew
(3) CG62 Chanceller’s Ville: same as above, 9,957 tons
(4) CG63 Kaupens: same as above
(5) DDG54 Curtis Wilber; guided missile-equipped destroyer, 8,422 tons, 346 crew
(6) DDG56 John S. McCane, same as above
(The above five are Aegis-ships)
(7) DD975 Obrien; destroyer, 8,040 tons, 319-339 crew
(8) DD985 Cussing: destroyer, same as above
(9) FFG51 Gary: guided missile-equipped frigate, 4,100 tons, 200 crew
(10) FFG48 Vandegrift, same as above
Movements of Kitty Haw Battle Group ships in 2003
Nov. 1 2003: Departure from Yokosuka for a “Fall Deployment”
Nov. 5: Philippine Sea Nov. 6: Pacific
Nov. 7-14: South China Sea Nov. 17-18: East China Sea
Nov. 19-25: Pacific Nov. 26-30: Apra Harbor Guam
Dec. 1-11: Pacific Decl. 12: Return to Yokosuka
2. Impacts of U.S Bases on Local Communities
Until the end of the Vietnam War, Yokosuka abounded in bars and restaurants for U.S. soldiers as customers. Soldiers being sent to the battlefield were in a desperate state of mind and spent extravagantly for momentary enjoyment. The exchange rate fixed at that time at 360 yen to the dollar, the GI’s spending accounted for a sizeable portion of Yokosuka’s income. At the peak of this extravaganza, more than 100 bars and restaurants thrived about exclusively catering for GIs. There were close to 1000 prostituted women for them.
Later, as U.S. began withdrawing troops from Vietnam following the Paris peace accord, the position of Yokosuka in the U.S. strategy changed and aircraft carriers belonging to the 7th Fleet began to be assigned to Yokosuka. In 1973 Yokosuka became the homeport of the aircraft carrier Midway. The Independence, and the Kitty Hawk were then homeported. Yokosuka has been the homeport of U.S. aircraft carriers for 30 years now. But the weight of the bases began to decline gradually as the Yokosuka city development plan went ahead. Soldiers on their way to the battlefield and those stationed permanently in Yokosuka behave differently. The GI habit of spending all the salaries over a single night has long gone. The yen appreciation in the meantime eroded the U.S. military personnel’s purchasing capacity. This was sensed clearly in the 1990s. U.S. military personnel opted to buy things within the base, and stopped drinking outside the base. The upsurge of anti-base movement throughout Japan, triggered by the raping of a girl in Okinawa, prompted the U.S. military to increase MP patrols in the Yokosuka streets to regulate GI’s behavior. Though far smaller than before, Yokosuka has a street with bars specifically for GIs. There U.S. MPs patrol very frequently. Some of the local neighborhood associations also organized their own patrolling units. Statistics about GIs’ crimes are not available. But their crime rate does not seem very high as many military personnel are stationed permanently, living with their families. The Navy personnel are higher aged than marines and are trained in different ways than marines.
But once a warship other than those homeported in Yokosuka arrives, several cases of GI violence would always occur in the city. Sailors on these ships are not as much disciplined as the crew of the homeported ships. On June 20 1990, the Midway had an explosion accident, 130 kilometers from the Boso Peninsula coast. The explosion occurred close by the mid-ship munitions depot, killing three crew members and injuring 15. This accident generated fears of nuclear explosion among the Yokosuka citizens. The truths about this accident are still concealed, but it could have been a disastrous accident. Aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers homeported in Yokosuka have gone on numerous attack missions in the Gulf War, subsequent repeated attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan war, and the on-going Iraq War. They attacked targets with Tomahawk missiles they carried.
Serious Environmental Pollution
Throughout its long history, the Yokosuka base has been seriously polluting water and soil. Recent surveys made on the water environment in Berth No. 12 where aircraft carriers are berthed as well as on soil conducted for the construction of housing estates for U.S. military personnel disclosed how seriously environment has been polluted by the bases. The water and soil samples showed that 50 to 500 time more harmful substance, such as arsenic, lead, mercury, and benzene, than the standard levels existed in the base environment.
After the No. 12 berth collapsed in an accident in May 2000, the Pollution Section of the Prefectural Insurance Association conducted a sampling survey on the spot of the accident. They found a lot of deformed fish, some with bent spines and others with tumors. This discovery shocked the neighborhood communities. In X-ray surveys held in 1999 before the accident, 30% of the fish sampled had spine abnormalities. Fish with spine troubles reached 60% of the samples taken after the said accident.
Diet Interpellations on this Matter
(151th session of the House of Councilors’ Foreign Policy and Defense Committee; 2001/06/07)
Government witness (Ito Yasunari) From August 1997 through October 1998, we conducted surveys in Berth No. 12. We divided the area into 32 subareas and probed into soil conditions in each of them. We found that on eight counts soil was polluted beyond the soil environment standards. Talking about heavy metals, the lead solved into soil was detected above the environment standard in 19 spots. The same for chromium sexivalent in 1 spot, arsenic in 28 spots, mercury in 14 spots, selenium in five spots. As for organic chlorine compounds, 1-1-2llll trichloro-ethane in three spots, hypochloropropane in 1 spot, and benzene in three spots.
Extraordinary Radiation Dose
In one of its radiation surveys in the Yokosuka municipal government on July 11 1998 recorded a three time higher level of radioactivity than the normal level in the sea water at its monitoring post No. 2, or 58cps. In an official request the mayor of Yokosuka presented to the central government, he called into question the earlier government statement that the unusual dose of radiation was due to the flow of soil into the sea caused by localized heavy rainfall and construction work going on in nearby areas. He said that this kind of statement was giving serious anxiety to Yokosuka citizens and as the mayor of a city nuclear warships were visiting frequently requested precise surveys on the situation.
The mayor however basically accepts the presence of the base, and despite serious environment pollution due to the warship operation, has not openly protested against base-caused pollution.
3. Impacts of September 11 Incident
The day the 911 incident occurred, the bases and their neighborhood were brought under strict surveillance. The following day, Japanese base employees were ordered not to report, and cars and passers-by were subjected to strict checks at the base gates. Roads near the bases experienced extreme traffic jam. The aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk advanced training schedules for its airmen so that it would depart as soon as possible to the Indian Ocean. The planes from the aircraft carriers carried out intense training using Atsugi base. On some days, we observed planes taking off the flight deck in quick succession, at an interval of one minute.
At the Atsugi base to which carrier-borne planes fly when the ship is berthed, all the base gates were protected with piled up sandbags. At the Sagami U.S. logistic base also in Kanagawa Prefecture, machine guns were set at the top of sandbags at the front gate.
In Yokosuka, patrols by boats were strengthened in the waters offered for use by the U.S. Navy. While the arrivals and departures of nuclear powered warships had been publicly disclosed by the municipal office, the U.S. asked the city not to announce these dates beforehand on grounds that “terrorists might attack them.” The municipal office decided not to publicly announce the dates though it continues to provide information to us. (Posterior announcement of arrivals and departures are continued).
Some activists were detained for a few hours while taking pictures in front of the base. I myself was taking video and my Japanese-American solider friend cautioned me that video-taking might implicate me as a terrorist. Japanese police also asked me not to take video, and I protested that public servants in pursuit of public duties had no portrait right. “Do you think American GIs have that right?” The police could not talk back. My impression was that Japanese policemen were guarding the base quite unwillingly.
4. Current Most Urgent Issues
Berth No. 12 for nuclear aircraft carrier: At the Yokosuka base, Berth No. 12 for aircraft carriers is proposed to be elongated. The plan is to launch the extension work in 2006. If this extension is done, it is likely that a nuclear-powered aircraft carriers is assigned to Yokosuka.
Expansion of the Ikego housing estate: Another issue involves the controversial housing estate for U.S. military personnel at Ikego. The construction of the estate was finally carried out despite strong opposition of the whole Zushi city community. Now the estate is planned to be expanded. The estate expansion is being imposed allegedly in exchange for the return to Japan of some base such as the Kamiseya communication facilities and another housing estate at Negishi in Yokohama. The Yokohama and Zushi city governments at the moment are opposed to the estate expansion and negotiating with the central government, but the central government is very tough in the imposition of the project.
Atsugi anti-noise litigation: The community around the Atsugi base, suffering from noise of navy plane landing exercises, has litigated against the Japanese government for measures to alleviate noise from the base. In the third round of litigation, the Yokohama district court in October 2002 ruled that the noise countermeasures taken by the government were insufficient. But the government appealed the case to the higher court. The court struggle continues.
((Other Bases in Kanagawa Prefecture))
Navy housing estate at Ikego (2,422,398 sq.m.) / Navy Fukaya communication facilities (773,747 sq.m. ) / Navy Negishi housing estate
(428,040 sq.m.) / Navy Tsurumi oil storage (183,784 sq.m.) / Navy Tomioka Warehousell (28,988 sq.m.) / Navy Koshiba oil storage (526,209 sq.m.) / (plus water area of 470,000 sq.m.)
Army Sagamihara Logistics Depot (2,146,382 sq.m.) / Army Camp Zama (2,346,382 sq.m.) / Army Yokohama North Dock (519,053 sq.m.)
Stop the Dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq! 12.7
Komaki Local Meeting Appeal
December 7, 2003
Our fears have come true. Two Japanese have fallen victim to violence in Iraq. The sight of the bereaved families on television saddened us all. We pray for the souls of the dead from the bottom of our heart. Our sympathy with the grieving families takes us straight to the anger and sorrows of Iraqis bereft of their loved ones, scenes repeated in Iraq every day. All this is occurring as the result of the U.S-U.K. attack on Iraq, and the Japanese government's support of the attack. Sadness and anger now covering the whole world originated in this act of aggression and foreign occupation..
The two Japanese diplomats' deaths were reported by mass media, and the media said that "they were devoted to the reconstruction of Iraq" and described them as “victims of terror." The media term Japan’s partnership in the U.S-CPA as "reconstruction support" and the Iraqi people's resistance against occupation as "terror". This word-shifting is an effort to cover up the heart of the matter.
In response to the deaths, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro said "We should not succumb to terror" while Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Junko said, "We should prove by our action that they did not die in vain." Ultranationalist Governor of Tokyo Ishihara Shintaro said "If terrorists target Tokyo, we will annihilate them.”
These people do not take their responsibility for having caused the two diplomats’ deaths. They refuse to change their wrong policies, and fan vengeful feelings among the people. And they glorify the victims as national heroes. These are dangerous signs. They think as though they had been living in that ominous era of Imperial Japan’s war of aggression.
But public opinion is opposed to the deployment of Self-Defense Force troops to Iraq. It is clear to everyone that the decision to send troops there is dangerous to the future of Japan and that Prime Minister Koizumi is a sycophant to Bush. And people are disappointed at the Prime Minister who trifles people's lives. He repeated totally irresponsible utterances during the Diet debate on this issue, saying "I don’t know for certain whether or where it is dangerous or safe in Iraq," or "If one thinks Iraq is dangerous, maybe it is." Can this kind of statement serve a “full explanation” people demand of him about why Japanese troops should be sent to Iraq?
SDF soldiers and their families are voicing fears and anxieties about the Iraq operation. Soldiers are wary. Their typical response to the dispatch order is: "I have to go if ordered but none of us wants to go.” They doubt the legitimacy of the U.S. Iraq war and the occupation of the country. They are also wondering if the Self-Defense Forces are ceasing to be an organization of self-defense and being made to behave as a full-fledged army. Even if the soldiers’ position may differ from ours, we do share some common concerns with them.
“We refuse to participation in aggression and occupation, and we do not want to have any military forces” – this is our ardent wish and determination based on our critical reflection of Japan's past wars of aggression. In the present situation, we find the pacifist clause of the Japanese peace constitution even more realistic and appropriate than before. We are now at a major crossroads. We must decide which way we go.
Three C130 transport airplanes are being sent to Iraq from Komaki Base near Nagoya. Their bodies have been repainted sky-blue so the Iraqi people cannot easily see them carry ammunition and other supplies for the U.S. and British armies. This can in no way be a “humanitarian reconstruction” mission. There is no reason why Iraqi people should welcome Japanese soldiers performing such a mission. And with the dispatch of these airplanes, the Komaki base will be part of the war of aggression fought in Iraq. Additionally, a plan has surfaced to assign air refueling tanker planes to the Komaki air base. This base is becoming a staging ground for wars of aggression.
We must work to prevent any more human beings from being victimized in Iraq. We must not allow the SDF troops to go to Iraq. The U.S and British military occupation of Iraq must be terminated. We do not allow the Komaki base to become a base of invasion and aggression.
SDF soldiers, don’t go to Iraq!
Don't fly C130 planes from the Komaki base to Iraq!
7th December 2003. Stop the Dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq! 12.7 Komaki Rally participants
U.S Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station
Ichiro Yuasa (Peacelink Hirosima/Kure/Iwakuni)
1. Outline of U.S Military Base
Location: Kawazimo Area, Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
The base occupies about two third of the estuary of Nishikigawa river mouth.
History : The Iwakuni Air Patrol Squadron of Imperial Japanese Navy was established in 1940.
An UN Forces had occupied the base from 1946 to 1952.
The US military forces has been stationed since 1952.
The base became the US Marine Corps facilities and area in 1958.
Acreage: The current acreage of US Marine Corps Iawkuni Air Station is 575 ha.
The Japanese government has been reclaiming 215 ha land from the sea since 1997, under the garb of relocation of a runway to area off a coast. The area is expected to be 790 ha after a few years.
Number of personnel: US military personnel: Approximately 2900
Affiliation: The 12th Fighter Battalion of Marine, US Marine Corps
Equipment: Fighter attacker 62 F/A- Hornets
2. Impacts of U.S Bases on Local Community
The population of Iwakuni City is about 100,000. On the other hand, about 5,000 military families live in the city. Over 1000 Japanese employees work in the base. The revenue regarding the US military base occupies large percentage of local governments’ finance. Therefore, the US military base has had significant meaning to Iwakuni City after WWII.
3. Impacts of September 11 Incident
After September 11 incident, the security of the US military base had been tighter for about one year. Recently the security of the site becomes relaxed somewhat. Since the emergency legislation on national security of Japan was enacted, Japanese Self-Defense Forces has run drills to protect the US military forces.
4. Current Most Urgent Issues
Fighter attackers fly over the non-military area. Military helicopters have caused noise pollution. Therefore, the base has been putting the lives of community people at risk. In addition, the US military forces have conducted low-level flight trainings among mountain areas mostly at Chugoku, Shikoku, and Kyushu areas. These trainings have brought local communities horror. Because the Japanese government has been conducted the 160 billion reclamation project to relocate a military runway to a reclaimed site off a coast, local people are losing tidal flat and seaweed beds. Despite of the end of the Cold War, US military bases have been enlarged and consolidated.
5. Anti-US Base Campaigns in Host Community
Labor unions, Peace Committees and other groups have continued anti-US military base campaigns. These local organizations have cooperated with civil movements in Hiroshima Prefecture around since 1984. Now As members of Peacelink Hirosima-Kure-Iwakuni, local organizations have made public problems originating from the US military base, and continued campaigns to remove the US base from the community.
6. Anti-Bases Network, Group and Individual in Community
Organization: Iwakuni City Peace Institute, Rimpeace
Purpose & principle: As members of councils of municipalities hosting US military bases, monitoring activities of US military forces and raise problems originating US military presence to city offices and other governmental bodies. We continue our activities to realize military base/military forces-free society.
Contact Person: Jyungen Tamura
Mailing Address:3-75-19 Ushinoya Town, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan
=== Peacelink Hirosima-Kure-Iwakuni) ===
Address: C/o Kure YWCA, 3−1 Saiwaicho, Kure, Hiroshima, Japan
Tel: +81-823(21)2414 FAX：+81-823（21）2514
U.S Army Akizuki Ammunition Depot and Our Activities
Ichiro Yuasa (Peacelink Hirosima/Kure/Iwakuni)
1. Outline of U.S Military Bases
Location: A headquarters and the Hiro Ammunition Depot are located in Kure City, Hirosima Prefecture, Japan.
The Kawakami Ammunition Depot is located in Higashihirosima City, Hirosima Prefecture, Japan.
The Akizuki Ammunition Depot is located in Edajima Town, Hirosima Prefecture, Japan.
History: Ammunition Depots of US Army Forces in Hiroshima Prefecture, which has been atom- bombed in WWII, consist of 4 sites. A headquarters of US Army Forces in Hiroshima Prefecture is located within the Kure Maritime Self-Defense Forces base of Japan. Other three ammunition depots used to be torpedo compartments used by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The US Military Forces has used these sites since the end of WWII.
Acreage: The Kawakami Ammunition Depot (260 ha) / The Akizuki Ammunition Depot (55ha) / The Hiro
Ammunition Depot (36ha)
Number of Personnel: US military personnel (Approximately 30) / Civilian employees (15) / Japanese employees
Affiliation: US Army 83th Akizuki Ammunition group
Equipment: All kind of conventional weapons are stored.
2. Impacts of U.S Bases on Local Community
Because three ammunition depots are located separately, the US army transports ammunition among depots at sea and by land frequently. Therefore the danger with transportation has been problems always. Especially, until Vietnam War, suspicion of the storing of nuclear landmines surfaced as problems on many occasions.
The US Army Forces brought a lot of ammunition from these depots to battlefields in Korean War, Vietnam War as well as Gulf War. These depots were used to help kill people in Asian countries by the US army forces.
3. Impacts of September 11 Incident
After September 11 incident, the security of the US army bases was tightened for about one year. Recently the security of these sites becomes relaxed somewhat. After the national emergency legislation of Japan was made in, Japanese Self-Defense Forces has run drills to protect these US army ammunition depots.
4. Current Most Urgent Issues
The US army forces transport ammunition on a daily basis. Therefore, these bases are putting the lives of community people at risk of possible accidents that can occur in the process of ammunition transportation.
5. Anti-US Bases Campaign in Host Community
People in host communities are monitoring the state of ammunition transportation and accused the US military forces with their fault regarding the ammunition transportation.
Peacelink Hirosima-Kure-Iwakuni has made issues of the problems originating from US military bases, including the possible danger with ammunition supply and its transportation, and conducts movements to remove US bases from these communities since 1984.
6. Anti-Bases Network, Group and Individual in Community
Name of Organization: Peacelink Hiroshima / Kure / Iwakuni
Purpose & principle: Monitoring activities of US military forces in Hirosima and raise problems originating US military presence to city offices and other governmental bodies. We continue our activities to make Hiroshima military base/military force-free.
Contact Person: Ichiro,Yuasa or Eiko Odawara
Mailing Address: C/o Kure YWCA, 3−1 Saiwaicho, Kure, Hiroshima, Japan
Tel: 81-823(21)2414 FAX: 81-823（21）2514
URL: http://www .d6.dion.ne.jp/~knaruaki/plindex.htm
Hijyudai Japanese Military Exercise GroundAmmunition
Kyoko Yamashita, Machiko Matsumura (Local Net Hijydai on Us Bases and Japan)
1. Outline of U.S Military Bases
History: 1900 Japanese Imperial Army the 12th Division Artillery started exercise.
1946-1957 Taken over by the UN forces (mainly the US troops)
1953 Japanese Self Defense Forces started using
Acreage: 4900 hectare (100% national-owned land)
The Number of Stationary Troops: Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) troops staying in the southern part of
Japan visit Hijuday to run exercises.
Yufu Military Garrison: 1000 troops of Ground SDF infantry.
Conformation: Ground SFD
Equipment: SDF 203 mm cannon, MLRF, Rescue Devise
US Troops 155 mm cannon, military vehicles
2. Impacts of US Bases on Local Community
Hijudai is the largest exercise ground for JSDF in the western part of Japan. Although the exercise ground is basically for use by the JSDF, the US marine moved to Hijudai from Okinawa for their one month artillery live-fire training from 1999. The U.S. marine training has been conducted 4 times up to now, and the fifth is planned in January 2004. Since US military personnel is not allowed to go out of the base area without permission, the Yufuin community itself is not directly affected. However, elementary school pupils around the exercise ground are now commuting in groups, and in the area adjacent to the exercise ground, they have to go to school by taxi for their safety. School children’s activity is visibly affected by US military exercise. US personnel go out to a neighboring city in groups at night. They often act violently after drinking, shout, or start fighting. There was also casea of U.S. soldiers skipping on restaurant bills.
The government allocated 3 billion yen from the budget of Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) for construction of new roads, barracks, monitoring posts, and fences. In order to appease local residents’ complaints about shelling noisex, some of their houses were equipped with noise isolation and additional streetlights were installed. The landscape of Wakasugi district, an area of Yufuin geographically closest to the exercise ground has changed because of the construction of roads for military use. In communities very close to the base in the next town to Yufuin City, the government is recruiting voluntary evacuees promising compensation. We are afraid that this may be a sign that the exercise ground is going to be expanded. Talking critically about the base and JSDF is a taboo in local politics. . The votes by SDF personnel heavily matter in mayoral and town counci elections.
3. Impacts of September 11 Incident
The exercises became more frequent and intense while the base became more heavily guarded. Exercise by the Self-Defense Forces has been strengthened since the wartime law was enacted.
4. Most Urgent Current Issues
-Noise from the base and dangers to the residents, such as cannon shelling, military vehicles, helicopters, low-altitude training flights by the US troops.
-Self-Defense Force soldiers in combat fatigue frequently march in the street, carrying guns at night.
5. People’s Anti-Base Movement in Community
Currently, the network named Local Net Hijudai ‘on US Bases and Japan, a network of 300 organizations and individuals throughout Oita Prefecture is the main movement body, and this network cooperates with Yufuin Women’s Network “Sunflower.”
- Monitoring, and conducting protest action against, military exercises.
- Holding study meetings related to peace issues on a constant basis.
- Building solidarity networks with people who are fighting against U.S bases in Okinawa and other areas in
Japan, campaigns for the placement of peace advertisements in newspapers, and participating in the
networking of anti-base women’s groups in Japan.
-Organizing sustained exchange programs with Korean civil groups, and promoting a documentary film, “Mehyan’ni,’” a film on Korean anti-base struggle made through the exchange program.
Tasks and Reflections
- Though we have succeeded in spreading our networks, it has not yet taken deep enough roots within our own
communities. We felt that to overcome this weakness we must build closer relations among the residents of our
community so that they begin to help each other in their daily lives. For this, we launched a local currency program,
and are going to create a public space where local old persons, the handicapped persons, and children can come
together and talk freely.
.-Aware that our relationship with the local administration has been weak, we are planning to get our activist
members to run in local elections and win seats so that we can obtain more cooperation of the municipal
administration in our anti-base activities.
6. Anti-Bases Network, Groups, and Individual
Name of Organization: Local Net Hijudai ‘on US Bases and Japan
Yufuin Women’s Network “Sunflower”
Purpose & Principle: Making society with no base and no army by the community improvement and international
Contact Person: Kyoko Yamashita, Machiko Matsumura, Ryuji Urata
Mailing Address: Kawakami 1525-12, Yufuin-cyo, Ooita-gun, Ooita, JAPAN
Tel / FAX: +81-977-85-5003
=== Local Net Hijudai ‘on US Bases and Japan ===
Address: Kawakami 1525-12, Yufuin-cyo, Ooita-gun, Ooita, JAPAN
Tel / FAX: +81-977-85-5003 URL: http://www.coara.or.jp/~yufukiri/localnet/lonets.html