U.S. base on Japan’s Okinawa will be allowed to move after 17-year deadlock

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TOKYO (CNN) — A Japanese governor has approved a measure to allow for the relocation of a controversial U.S. military base on Okinawa, breaking 17 years of stagnation on the base’s transfer plan, the government of Okinawa said Friday.

The Okinawa prefecture’s Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima on Friday approved a landfill proposal by the Japanese central government that will permit the construction of new military facilities in a sparsely populated area.

The Futenma air base, which is in a highly populated area, has been unpopular with the island’s residents due to crimes committed by U.S. military personnel and allegations against them in the past.

Many residents were incensed by the rape of a 12-year-old Japanese girl in 1995 by three U.S. military personnel. It sparked some of the worst anti-U.S. military demonstrations seen in Japan in decades.

In 2002, a U.S. staff sergeant in the Air Force was convicted of raping a Japanese woman in a parking lot outside a popular nightclub in Okinawa. Intense media coverage of the case brought pressure on the Japanese government to review its agreement with the United States about handling criminal cases in Japan involving the U.S. military.

And allegations that a Marine raped a 14-year-old girl caused a furor in 2008. The girl later decided not to pursue charges.

In 2012, three U.S. servicemen were arrested in connection with rapes in Okinawa.

About half of all U.S. military personnel in Japan are stationed on the island.

The stagnation of the relocation issue has been a thorn in the side of relations between Tokyo and Washington since 1996 when the two governments agreed on the original plan to move the base.

Nakaima, the governor, also implied that escalating tension with neighboring countries pushed Okinawa to cooperate with the central government.

“Regardless the will of the Okinawa people, the tension is heightening on (the) international front. Okinawa needs to play a certain role for that,” he said.

Okinawa administers the Senkaku Isands, a flash point in a territorial dispute between Japan and China. China claims them as territory and calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

By Yoko Wakatsuki and Ben Brumfield, CNN

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1 Comment

  • ByeByeToTheRite

    So, how much is THIS costing us taxpayers? And those servicepeople are just SWELL, aren’t they? A FINE, god-fearing, bible-toting bunch if ever I “done saw one”. I guess we should be glad they’re not kicking us out, because that’s what I’d do. But wait – they will need Big America’s help if their rich owners lose China’s island to China. Like everywhere in the world, if anyone DARES take back property stolen by wealthy capitalist crooks in the world, Big America will be there to defend them. Of course, this is China, so maybe Japan shouldn’t be so sure of our support – I think we’d last about 10 minutes in a war with them. Our servicepeople as a rule have become lazy sitting around for years with nothing to do but rake in huge pay checks off the taxpayer’s backs, so all those years of raping, molesting and pillaging may make them unable to fight any thing close to a real war.

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