US military helicopters flying in Okinawa near the Futenma Air Base (PressTV)

Future of Okinawa Base Strains U.S. – Japanese Alliance

Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
January 24, 2010

The people of Okinawa and the U.S. Marine Corps agree on at least one thing: The Futenma Marine air station is a noisy dinosaur that needs to move elsewhere — and soon.

Smack in the middle of this densely packed city of 92,000 and taking up about a quarter of its land, the air base torments its neighbors with the howl of combat helicopters and the shudder of C-130 transport planes.

“The noise is unbearable,” said Harumi Chinen, principal of Futenma No. 2 Elementary School, where about 780 children study in buildings next to the airfield. “A school should be very comforting and safe. That is not the case here.”

To read the full story at the Washington Post web site, click here.

For additional reporting on the situation in Okinawa, click the links below.

Edano Visits Futenma Airfield,   The Japan Times Online,  January 23, 2011

F-15 Drills Moving to Guam from Okinawa,  The Yomiuri Shimbun,  January 21, 2011

Gates Eases Up on Okinawa Base Relocation,, January 14, 2011

Okinawa U.S. Marine Base Angers Residents and Governor,   Huffington Post, Stephen Nessen, January 4, 2011

Japanese, U.S. Seal Okinawa Base Deal


Jacob M. Schlesinger
The Wall Street Journal
May 27, 2010

The Japanese government issued a joint statement with the U.S. formally sealing a controversial agreement to keep a large number of Marines on the southern island of Okinawa, after the Obama administration made some small concessions to help Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama save face for breaking a campaign promise.

The new pact, issued Thursday night in Washington, places greater emphasis than previous agreements on environmental protection, a major concern of critics of the plan for the military base. It includes a pledge to give Japanese officials greater access to U.S. facilities for ecological surveys, and a promise to consider “ways to introduce renewable energy technology” on the base.

To read the full story in the Wall Street Journal, click here.


For additional information on this issue, please refer to the following reports:

Japan, U.S. Issue Joint Statement on Relocation of Okinawa Base   Xinhua,  May 28, 2010

Japan, U.S. Agree on Okinawa Marine Base Relocation   Businessweek,  May 28, 2010

Japan PM in Deal to Keep US Base on Okinawa   BBC News,  May 28, 2010

Hatoyama, Obama to Talk on Futenma Air Base


Vinay Sarawagi and Roshni Menon
May 25, 2010

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will speak with President Barack Obama over the phone Thursday to discuss relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, the Kyodo news agency said.

Hatoyama and Obama’s talks will revolve around relocating the air station, which is in Okinawa Prefecture, to a coastal zone of the Marines’ Camp Schwab, also in the prefecture, the news agency said.

Ahead of the talks, the two governments may release a joint statement centering on agreements to build a replacement facility for the airfield in the Henoko district in Nago and reach a decision on the relocation plan by September, the news agency said it learned from Japan-U.S. diplomatic sources.

To read the full story at the Reuters web page, click here.


For additional information on this issue, please refer to the following reports:

EDITORIAL: Obama to Okinawa: Abandon Hope and Change  Washington Times, May 25, 2010

Okinawa Decision Has Missile Defense Element   Aviation Week,  May 25, 2010

Fukushima’s Okinawa Trip Makes Waves   The Japan Times,  May 25, 2010

Japan’s PM Could Go it Alone on Futenma


David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida
Stars and Stripes
May 20, 2010

Failing to get support from junior members of his ruling coalition for his plan to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama may break with the coalition and make his proposal public without their approval.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Monday in Tokyo that there may be a way for Hatoyama to keep his pledge to present a relocation plan by his self-imposed May 31 deadline without getting the Social Democratic Party or the People’s New Party to agree.

To read the full story in the Stars and Stripes, click here.


Japan Backs Down on Runway Change in US Base Plan


AsiaOne News (AFP)
May 19, 2010

Japan has told the United States it will back down in a dispute over the relocation of an unpopular US airbase and build offshore runways on landfill rather than pylons, a report said Wednesday.

In the row over the base on the island of Okinawa, Japan had proposed building the runways on pylons to minimise the impact on a marine habitat, but Washington argued this would heighten the risk of a terrorist attack.

The concession, reported by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, would be the latest twist in a long-simmering dispute over what to do with the controversial US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now located in a crowded city area.

To read the full story at asiaone news, click here.


For additional information on this issue, please review the reports below:

Approach Paths Limited for New U.S. Airstrip  The Japan Times (Kyodo News), Dec. 6, 2006

Thousands Rally for Okinawa Dugong, Letter Protesting Base Relocation Hand-delivered to Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama. May 14, 2010

Naval Gazing in Asia  Foreign Policy,  May 18, 2010

U.S. Court Rules in the “Okinawa Dugong” Case: Implications for U.S. Military Bases Overseas  Critical Asian Studies 40:3 (2008),  Miyume Tanji

Photo: AFP

Japan Not Ready for Base Deal


The Straits Times (AFP)
May 18, 2010

Japan won’t be ready to resolve a row over a controversial US airbase when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Japan later this week, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said on Tuesday.

Mrs Clinton will visit Japan on Friday, mainly to discuss a sunken South Korean navy ship now suspected to have been caused by a North Korean attack, as well as Iran’s nuclear programme, Mr Okada said in a news conference.

Tokyo and Washington have quarrelled for months over where to relocate the locally unpopular US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station now located in a city area of the southern island of Okinawa.

To read the full story in The Straits Times, click here.

Reports: Hatoyama, Clinton to Discuss US Base


Eric Talmadge (AP)
May 17, 2010

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who will reportedly meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week, vowed Monday to do all he can to resolve an impasse over the future of a major American Marine base by the end of the month.

Hatoyama is under increasing pressure to come up with a plan to move operations off the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa in keeping with a pledge he made before becoming Japan’s leader last September.

To read the full story at the, click here.

Demonstrators form a human chain around Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture on Sunday, May 16. KYODO PHOTO

U.S. Air Base Surrounded by Human Chain of Protesters 

The Japan Times (Kyodo, AP)
May 16, 2010

About 17,000 people formed a human chain around Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, on Sunday, calling for the return of the land used by the U.S. Marine Corps facility and protesting plans to move its operations elsewhere in the prefecture.

Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha and Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine were among those braving strong winds and rain for the demonstration and read out a joint statement calling on the central government to give up on its plans to move it to the Henoko district in Nago.

To read the full story at the Japan Times online, click here.


Additional information on this story can be found at the links below:

AFP Photo

Okinawa Residents Protest at US Air Base   AFP,  May 16, 2010

Japan Reluctant to Antagonize US Over Air Base  Press TV, May 16, 2010

Massive Okinawa “13 Kilometer Human Chain” Protest Announced For Sunday, May 16


Global Post
May 11, 2010

A massive 13 kilometer long human chain will protest against the Futenma relocation of the American military base in Okinawa on May 16, 2010, according to Sankei.

Mayor Youichi Iha told a news conference on Tuesday that people in Okinawa Prefecture want the central government to negotiate with the US to remove the bases from Okinawa…

To read the full story at, click here.