Okinawa governor criticises US bases damaging local economy

GMT 23:07 2015 Wednesday ,20 May

Arab Today, arab today Okinawa governor criticises US bases damaging local economy

Japan's Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga
Tokyo - XINHUA

Takeshi Onaga, the governor of the Japanese southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, on Wednesday criticized that U.S. bases in Okinawa has been damaging local economic growth and Japan is only a follower of U.S. policy.

Onaga said that U.S. base-related revenue only takes about 4.9 percent of the prefecture's gross domestic products, a tumble of some 45-percent since the 1945, adding that local economy witnessed momentum after exploiting and developing the land returned from the U.S. bases.

Okinawa merely accounts for about 0.6 percent of entire Japanese territory, but the tiny island prefecture is home to about 74 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan. The governor commented that the U.S. bases are the major obstacle for the prefecture to develop economy.

Onaga, an opponent against Japan-U.S. agreement that stipulates to transfer the controversial U.S. Futenma airbase in the prefecture's populated Ginowan city to Okinawa's coastal Henoko area, also chided that the Abe's administration can do nothing to help Okinawa people, but follow the United States.

"The United States told Okinawa that Okinawa's autonomy will be a myth during the 27 years when the United States occupied Okinawa, " said Onaga, adding that "I'm wondering that whether the United States also told Japan that Japan's independence is also a myth."

The governor said although he values Japan-U.S. defense alliance, but the security-related cost should not be burdened only by Okinawa, stressing that the land now used by U.S. bases were given involuntarily to them as they forced the Okinawan people to do so.

"If bases will be permanently existed in Okinawa, the Okinawa battle that claimed about 100,000 Okinawa civilians' lives 70 years ago would happen again," the governor told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Meanwhile, the governor showed his mistrust against the Japanese central government over the MV-22 Ospreys deployment, saying the Defense Ministry maintained silent to Okinawa even they already had the plan to deploy the pro-accident aircraft in the prefecture.

About 35,000 people rallied in Okinawa Sunday demanding the shutdown of the Futenma airbase, the home to 24 Ospreys, and on Monday, an Osprey crashed in Hawaii, killing one.

Onaga addressed Sunday's rally and vowed that he will make "all- out efforts" to block the transfer of the Futenma.

The governor also held a press conference earlier the day at the Japanese press club. Onaga will leave for Hawaii and Washington later this month to directly convey Okinawa's position to the United States.

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