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2010年5月 2日 (日)

社説:普天間移設 筋通らぬ「辺野古」回帰

Hatoyama's modified Futenma plan runs counter to pledge to move base out of Okinawa
社説:普天間移設 筋通らぬ「辺野古」回帰

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who had repeatedly pledged to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of Okinawa Prefecture, is now leaning toward building a substitute facility for the base off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa. But one cannot help wonder why he has changed his mind.

The Hatoyama administration is reportedly considering building a runway on a so-called quick installation platform (QIP) to be built on piles driven into the sea bottom off the U.S. military's Camp Schwab. Furthermore, the government is studying a plan to either relocate up to 1,000 airborne troops from Futenma to Tokunoshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, or to shift the training site.

The government has claimed that the QIP method would pose less of a threat to the environment than the plan previously agreed upon between Tokyo and Washington to build a runway by reclaiming the sea off Camp Schwab.

Still, the construction of a runway off Henoko runs counter to Hatoyama's pledge to relocate Futenma base out of the prefecture. Okinawa, especially the city of Nago that would be required to host the substitute facility, is highly unlikely to accept the modified relocation plan as some 90,000 residents adopted a resolution in a rally on April 25, calling for relocation out of the prefecture and out of the country.

Experts have pointed out that even the QIP method would seriously affect sea creatures because the platform would block sunlight and thousands of piles would be driven into the sea floor.

If the prime minister approves the QIP method, it would be inconsistent with his earlier remarks describing the reclamation plan as "profanity against nature."

Japan and the United States had considered building a runway off Henoko using the QIP method, but ruled it out because it is difficult to take anti-terrorism measures and it would cost a massive amount of money. The modified plan could spur speculation that the government has come up with the idea in a bid to drag U.S. officials, who are sticking to the previously agreed on plan, to the negotiation table.

Prime Minister Hatoyama is scheduled to visit Okinawa on Tuesday for the first time since he took office, and hold talks with Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima over the relocation of Futenma base. Attention will be focused on whether the prime minister himself came up with the modified plan. He is required to provide an explanation that will satisfy not only the governor but also Okinawa residents and the Japanese general public as a whole.

The plan to relocate some of the Marines stationed at Futenma to Tokunoshima Island has also been deadlocked. The mayors of the three towns on Tokunoshima Island have expressed stiff opposition to the plan while Washington has shown reluctance to accept the plan, citing operational problems.
Late last month, Hatoyama asked former House of Representatives member Torao Tokuda, who had been elected from Tokunoshima and has influence on the local community, to cooperate in shifting some Marines to the island, only to be rejected.

Tokuda explained Tokunoshima residents' anti-U.S. forces sentiment, pointing out that the island was split from Japan's mainland following the end of World War II and placed under the control of U.S. forces until 1953. It goes without saying that the prime minister should take local residents' sentiment into consideration in studying the possibility of moving some U.S. Marines to the island.

There remains less than a month before Hatoyama's self-imposed deadline for settling the Futenma relocation issue at the end of May. The prime minister has declared that he will stake his position on the settlement of the issue before the deadline.

The government is required to gain consent from the community of the area that will host a substitute facility. During his visit to Okinawa, Prime Minister Hatoyama should show his determination to settle the issue by forming a consensus among local residents.

(Mainichi Japan) May 1, 2010
毎日新聞 2010年5月1日 2時31分


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