I am Takeshi Onaga, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. In fulfilling the mandate granted by the 1,430,000 people of Okinawa Prefecture, 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 approximately 70 years ago. More than 200,000 people, including about 120,000 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. During this period, the Japanese Constitution was not applied to Okinawa, and Okinawan people were neither Japanese nor Americans. They led their lives as stateless people.
Even today, more than 70 years after the end of the war, approximately 74% of the military facilities exclusively used by U.S. Forces Japan are still concentrated in Okinawa Prefecture, which accounts for only 0.6% of Japan’s total land area. This 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 18% of the total land area. In the island’s Central and Southern urban area, where approximately 1,180,000 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 believe that the Japan-U.S. alliance is very important and support the current Japan-U.S. security arrangements. Yet at the same time, I believe that if the Japanese government regards the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty as essential, the entire country should shoulder the burden of the U.S. Military bases.
Regarding the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to an area off the coast of Henoko in Nago City, the Japanese government has proceeded with this process despite the fact that the people of Okinawa have demonstrated in almost every local election that public opinion is against construction of a new base at Henoko. 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 the dugong and more than 5,800 species of life, including 262 endangered species, so that a new military facility may be constructed.
I believe it is very important that I communicate the public opinion expressed by the people of Okinawa against the new base at Henoko as well as my intentions as governor, which are founded upon this popular will, to prevent its construction to not only the Japanese government but also the U. S. government, U. S. Congress and other entities concerned. That is why, in April 2015, 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. 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
3. Demand a fundamental revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement
4. Work towards the fundamental resolution of additional issues, namely the intense noise pollution from U.S. military aircraft, crimes committed by the U.S. military service members and civilian components, and the environmental problems stemming from the U.S. bases