Demilitarizing Okinawa (9/00)

In July, the G8 Summit Meeting was held in Okinawa, a group of islands in Japan that serves as a US stronghold with huge military bases. In response, the Japanese Peace Committee called for international support end to this occupation. Here is the group’s statement:

Like a colony, Okinawa is burdened with US military bases, a situation with no parallel in other sovereign states in the world. Huge bases occupy more than 10 percent of the whole territory (20 percent of the main island). They were built in violation of international law.

Occupying Okinawa in the Second World War, US Military forces built their bases by force, sending surviving citizens to concentration camps and taking their land without payment. It was a clear violation of The Hague Convention that prohibits the confiscation of private property even during war, and that obliges to pay for their property requisitioned even in the case of military necessity.

Since 1953, bulldozing houses and burning them, the US Forces has outrageously promoted the large scale of requisition of land for huge military bases. Today, these bases are the root cause of the violation of human rights and security of Okinawan people.

According to the statistics of Japanese Government as well as of Okinawa prefecture, a number of crimes committed by US soldiers for these 30 years has reached around 5,000, and more than 10 percent of them are violent crimes such as murder, burglaries, and rapes. However, neither Japan’s domestic laws nor US laws are applied to the US Forces in Japan, and in fact U.S. soldiers committing crimes are protected by prerogatives. Meanwhile, noise pollution by US bases reaches 37 percent of Okinawa’s population. Crashes and the burning of military airplanes are common.

This situation violates the spirit, if not the letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person" (Article 3). The bases also constitute a threat to peace in Asia and around the world. Okinawa is the only place in the world where the US deploys Marine Corps outside its territory, looming over the Korean Peninsula and China.

Moreover, the US is reinforcing its military bases in Okinawa. Based on the military strategy of preemptive attack, it plans to build a modern base on the beautiful seashore of Nago City, site of the recent G8 Summit. 

Clearly, such a situation infringes on UN principles such as peaceful solution of conflicts, respect for sovereignty, and non-interference in internal affairs.

The nations of G8 declare that they share common values: democracy, human rights, and peace. But in Okinawa these values are trampled. We urge the governments of Japan and the US to immediately initiate the reduction and removal of US bases in order to normalize the situation in Okinawa. It is high time, as the 21st century begins, to honor the wishes of the Okinawan people.

-Japanese Peace Committee, July 2000