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

Okinawa Assembly Chides U.S. on Base Relocation


David Allen
Stars & Stripes
July 9, 2010

Okinawa’s lawmakers Friday urged the United States to rethink plans to build a new Marine Corps air station on the island.

On the last day of its current session, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed a resolution calling on the U.S. and Japan to reconsider a recent decision to go forward with closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in urban Ginowan, and moving Marine air units to the island’s rural northeast shore.

Addressed to President Barack Obama, the leaders of the House and Senate, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, the resolution states that the plan — established in a 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement — “ignores the full will of the people of Okinawa, who wish to move the operations out of Okinawa.”

To read the full story at Stars & Stripes, click here.

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

Controversy Over U.S. Base in Okinawa


Warren Mass
New American
May 21,2010

The British Guardian newspaper on May 21 quoted from a statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to reporters in Tokyo that a dispute between the United States and Japan over the future of a U.S. airbase in Okinawa would not affect the countries’ “rock solid” 50-year-old alliance.

“We both seek an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable,” said Clinton, at the start of a three-nation tour of Asia that will include visits to China and South Korea. “The goal of our governments remains unchanged: we want to maintain the security of Japan and the stability of the region.”

To read the full story at the New American, click here.


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

Clinton Kicks Off Asia Tour  PressTV,  May 21,2010

Japan Prime Minister Accepts Relocation Plan  KUAM News, May 21, 2010

US and Japan Strive to Meet Deadline for Okinawa Airbase Decision   The Guardian Weekly, May 21, 2010

Okinawans protested US bases on their island yesterday, shouting slogans as the prime minister visited. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Japanese Leader Says Moving US Base Off Okinawa Unlikely


Malcolm Foster
Associated Press at
May 5, 2010

Japan’s prime minister said for the first time yesterday that at least part of a key US military base will remain on the southern island of Okinawa, a move that could reduce tension with Washington but dent his sinking popularity and raise the ire of island residents.

A dispute over the relocation of Futenma Marine Corps airfield has become the focal point of US-Japan ties since Yukio Hatoyama took office in September promising to move the base off Okinawa — contrary to a 2006 agreement with Washington that called for it to be moved to a less crowded, northern part of the island.

But on his first visit to Okinawa as prime minister, Hatoyama conceded it would be difficult if not impossible to move Futenma’s facilities off the island, which hosts more than half the 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan under a security pact.

To read the full story at, click here.

Protests in Okinawa against US air base


April 25, 2010

Tens of thousands of people rallied on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa Sunday to protest a US air base there. The prefecture’s governor as well as most of the mayors took part, asking the Prime Minister to make good on his promise to move the Futema Marine Corps Air Station off the island.

To read the full story on the RFI web site, click here.


CNN iReport


CNN’s iReporter LeahJay posted a video with pictures of today’s protest in Okinawa.

To view it on the CNN iReport site, click here.


90,000 Protest U.S. Base on Okinawa


Martin Fackler
The New York Times
April 25, 2010

More than 90,000 Okinawans rallied Sunday to oppose the relocation of an American air base on their island, adding to the pressure on Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to resolve an issue that has divided Tokyo and Washington.

The demonstrators, in one of the largest protests on the southern Japanese island in years, demanded that Mr. Hatoyama scrap a 2006 agreement with the United States to move the Futenma United States Marine air station to a different site on Okinawa. Many of the protesters wore yellow to signal they were giving Mr. Hatoyama a yellow card, or warning, for appearing to waver on election promises to move the busy base off Okinawa altogether.

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


Yahoo News has a photo slideshow on their web site. The slideshow and links to reporting on the April 25th Okinawa Protest can be found here.


CLOSE THE BASE ~ April 25th Protest


CLOSE THE BASE is updating their web site with media reports on a regular basis. To view the CLOSE THE BASE web site, click here.

Official: Japan Nearing Decision on Futenma Site


David Allen
Stars and Stripes
April 25, 2010

Japan’s government may take one step closer during the weekend to choosing an alternate site for relocating Marine air units now on Okinawa.

The proposed relocation site for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan will be announced to the government’s ministers and leaders of the three-party ruling majority by Sunday, according to Mikio Shimoji, a member of Japan’s Diet from Okinawa who met Thursday with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano.

Hirano said the government will call for a meeting of ministers by Sunday, Shimoji said on his blog late Thursday.

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

Japan Moves to Settle Dispute with U.S. over Okinawa Base Relocation


John Pomfret
The Washington Post
April 24, 2010

The Japanese government indicated Friday that it would broadly accept a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa, a move that could ease months of discord between the two allies, U.S. and Japanese officials said.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada presented U.S. Ambassador John V. Roos with a proposal to settle the dispute, telling him that Japan was moving toward accepting significant parts of a 2006 deal to move the Futenma air station from the center of a city of 92,000 to a less populated part of Okinawa, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

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

U.S. President Questions Japanese PM’s Ability to Make Good on Okinawa Base Promise
April 18, 2010

U.S President Barack Obama questioned Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s ability to ” follow through” on resolving the issue of relocating a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa Prefecture, political sources said Sunday.

In discussions between the two leaders held recently in Washington on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Obama pointed out to Hatoyama that zero progress has been made on the increasingly thorny issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futemma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, sources said Sunday, despite Hatoyama’s self-imposed deadline of the end-of-May to settle the issue and pleas to Obama to “trust him.”

To read the full story on the web site, click here.