Tokyo, the U.S. base remains on the island of Okinawa
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The military base remains on the island of Okinawa, despite the firm opposition of the local population. It has been agreed between Japan and the United States, ending a dispute that has jeopardized diplomatic relations between two historic allies. In the joint statement explaining that the Futenma air base military will move - as under the 2006 draft - from the current urban area to the coastal region of Henok, in the south.
The announcement was made today - just days before the deadline set for May 31 - following a phone call between Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and U.S. President Barack Obama. Last year, the Japanese Prime Minister, on coming to power, had claimed a "more equal" relationship between Tokyo and Washington. However, unable to find a satisfactory solution he was forced to give in to his U.S. ally.
Consensus for the executive has dropped from approximately 70% of last year, to 20% in recent days. Susumu Inamine, Mayor of Nago (the city that includes the territory of Henok) and staunch opponent of the Marine base, accuses Hatoyama of "betraying the people of Okinawa" and is maintaining his staunch opposition: no negotiations with Tokyo.
For some time the U.S. air base in Okinawa has raised the protests of the islanders, who complain about noise, environmental pollution, the risk of accidents and collisions. In addition there are tensions with the U.S. service personnel, which in some cases border on violence: in 1995, three Americans raped a local girl of only 12 years of age.