I am Denny Tamaki, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. Representing the people of Okinawa, I have been doing everything I can as governor to find solutions to problems that Okinawa faces in a variety of areas.
Okinawa Prefecture was the site of the only ground battle in Japan during World War II. More than 200,000 people, including about 94,000 Okinawans, lost their lives during the fighting. After the war when most of the population on Okinawa was confined to internment camps, the U.S. Military forcibly seized land and built many military bases. Later, in 1951, Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty and reclaimed their sovereignty. However, Okinawa remained under the U.S. military control for 27 years until its reversion to Japan in 1972.
Even today, the extensive overconcentration of U.S. Military bases in the prefecture severely restricts promotion of local industries and development of living environments. Particularly, on the main island of Okinawa, which is home to over 90% of Okinawa’s population, the U.S. forces facilities and areas account for about 15% of the total land area. In the island’s Central and Southern urban area, where approximately 1,210,000 people live and the population density is quite high, the U.S. bases have been present, dividing the urban district and creating constraints in terms of civic function, traffic system, land use, etc. Today, the existence of the U.S. bases in Okinawa is the biggest obstacle to the economic development of Okinawa. In addition, incidents, accidents, aircraft noise and other damages stemming from the U.S. bases have adversely impacted the lives of the people of Okinawa.
I agree with Japan-U.S. security arrangements and I am NOT asking all the U.S. military bases to be immediately closed and removed. Yet, it is absolutely unacceptable that Okinawa, which accounts for only 0.6% of Japan’s total land area, hosts 70.3% of exclusive-use U.S. Force Japan facilities, even today, more than 70 years after the end of the war. Simply said, it is not normal and again, such situation is intolerable for the people of Okinawa.
Regarding the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to an area off the coast of Henoko in Nago City, the people of Okinawa are opposed to the construction of the new Henoko base and demand the Air Station to be relocated outside Okinawa. Such will of Okinawan people has been once again clearly demonstrated through the highest number of votes ever won at the gubernatorial election, by the candidate, myself, who pledged to oppose the new Henoko base. The Japanese government has blatantly disregarded the will of our people. Moreover, it seeks to reclaim Oura Bay and the ocean area around Henoko, a cherished and precious area that is home to dugongs and more than 5,300 species of life, including 262 endangered species, so that a new military facility may be constructed.
I will strive not only to convey the strong opposition expressed by the people of Okinawa, but also to firmly request the Japanese government to respect the decision of the Okinawa Prefectural Government made based on the law, with regard to the revocation of reclamation permit. Both the Japanese and the U.S. governments are urged to reconsider the relocation of Futenma Air Station to outside Okinawa or outside Japan and to dispel the fixed mindset of Henoko being the only solution by taking into consideration the will of the Okinawan people as well as the ever changing international situation.
If the two governments force ahead with the construction of the new Henoko base without gaining the understandings of the Okinawan people, who have suffered the excessive burden of hosting the U.S. military bases for so long, the furious opposition could well direct itself towards the U.S. forces and make the stable operation of other bases in Okinawa, including Kadena Air Base, difficult.
It is very important for the Okinawa Prefectural Government to communicate the public opposition of Okinawa regarding the new base at Henoko, the need to alleviate the excessive base-related burden on Okinawa, as well as my intentions as governor, which are founded upon this popular will, not only to the Japanese government but also to the U.S. government, U.S. Congress and other entities concerned. That is why I placed representatives in Washington, D.C., the center of politics in the United States, and we have worked to gather and communicate information about the base issues.
It is also my hope that the correct information about Okinawa Prefecture conveyed through this website will help the people of the United States and many other people acquire a true understanding of my thoughts as governor and the actual situation that the people of Okinawa face vis-à-vis the U.S. Military bases.
I hope that our efforts and activities will lead to your deeper understanding of Okinawa, and, at the same time, enhance the relationship of trust between Japan and the United States even further.
Governor, Okinawa Prefecture
1. Demand closure and removal of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and firmly oppose construction of a new base at Henoko as well as deployment of Ospreys
2. Request the Japanese and the U.S. governments to immediately stop the operation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma
3. Demand a fundamental revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement as well as the application of domestic laws such as aviation law to the U.S. forces
4. Strengthen the collaboration with National Governors’ Association to share nationally the information on the excessive burden of hosting the U.S. military bases and the inequality of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, in order to find a solution.
5. Make the utmost effort to gather and send out necessary information by placing staff at Washington D.C. in order to resolve the base issues