Japan’s new prime minister

This video from Japan says about itself:

Okinawa Anti-Base Protesters Remember WWII

24 January 2010 — Since February 2006, people from all over Okinawa come to a sit-in protest in Higashi Village in the northern part of the island. They are determined to stop helipad construction within the US Armed Forces Northern Training Area in the Yanbaru Forest. They object to the environmental damage to the forest, home to 20 endangered species, that would be caused by the construction and then the constant helicopter traffic over the village and forest. Many of the protesters are survivors of WWII.

They form a network along with protesters at Henoko Bay who sit in daily to stop construction of a proposed marine helicopter training airfield replacing Futenma air base.

Background: Futenma Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) base is currently located in the heart of a densely populated Ginowan City creating a dangerous situation. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visiting Futenma in 2003 said that the base had to be closed because it is an “accident waiting to happen.” In 2004, a marine helicopter crashed into a university in Ginowan City located right next to Futenma base. No lives were lost because it occurred during summer vacation, but a building was heavily damaged.

All parties involved agree that Futenma needs to be closed, but the closure is contingent upon the availability of a relocation site. This is where the matter is currently stuck. It’s taken over a decade to negotiate a proper relocation site. In 2006, a plan was negotiated between Bush administration officials and the LDP, the previous government that ruled Japan for 54 years. The plan designated Henoko Bay next to Camp Schwab as the site for the new air station and called for the removal of 8,000 marines to Guam.

There has been an outcry from the Okinawans in part because Henoko Bay is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, home to coral reefs and the natural habitat of the endangered and beloved mammal, dugongs. A lawsuit was filed in San Francisco in 2003 by Japanese and US environmental NGOs that resulted in a 2008 ruling by a federal judge against the U.S. Department of Defense “requiring it to consider impacts of a new airbase on the dugong in order to avoid or mitigate any harm.”

About 70% of US military bases in Japan are located on Okinawa occupying over 20% of the island. Many Okinawans have been outraged by the impact on the quality of their lives of not only because of the safety issues that arise from the heavy helicopter and plane traffic, but also the deafening noise, falling objects from the helicopters and planes. The multiple impacts of US bases is a daily reality for the residents all over Okinawa and at times the impact is painfully tragic and unifies the entire island to protest. In fact, the current movement against US military bases was ignited in 1995 when a 12-year-old Okinawan girl was raped by a marine.

It is worth remembering that Okinawa is the site of the only land battle in Japan during WWII. About 150,000 Okinawan civilians lost their lives from the attacks by the US military and by Japanese Imperial Army that forced the residents to commit suicide rather than surrender. Many protesters of the military bases are survivors of the war.

The ongoing, organized protests at Henoko Bay and in Hidashi Village in have effectively delayed construction on those sites. Moreover, Okinawan voters made Henoko a campaign issue in the 2009 national elections in Japan that brought a new coalition government into power. …

The delay has caused great aggravation for the US government. Secretary of State Clinton and Secretary of Defense Gates have made it clear that the US expects the 2006 agreement to go forward.

By Peter Symonds:

New Japanese prime minister installed

8 June 2010

Naoto Kan is to be formally installed today as Japan’s prime minister following the resignation of Yukio Hatoyama last Wednesday. Support for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) led government had slumped to less than 20 percent just nine months after the Democrats ended more than half a century of virtually unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Kan became party leader, and thus next prime minister, in a vote on Friday, winning by 291 to 129. He now faces the task of trying to revive the DPJ’s fortunes before key upper house elections next month. In doing so, however, he confronts the same basic dilemma as his predecessor—how to implement policies that are unpopular among wide layers of voters.

The issue that prompted Hatoyama’s resignation was his decision to reverse the DPJ’s election promise to move the US Futenma Marine Corps airbase out of Okinawa. Hatoyama had pledged to renegotiate a 2006 agreement reached with Washington to move the base within Okinawa, but reneged last month in the face of US intransigence.

Hatoyama’s backdown not only provoked opposition on Okinawa, where the US military presence is deeply resented, but more broadly throughout Japan. During the campaign for last August’s election, Hatoyama sought to capitalise on widespread hostility to Japan’s support for US militarism in Iraq and Afghanistan by promising to establish a more equal partnership with Washington.

Huge protests demand U.S. leave Okinawa air base: here.

US-Japanese relations faced their greatest crisis since World War II this week in 1960 over a scheduled visit by US President Dwight Eisenhower, which came soon after the approval of a security pact that was widely opposed among Japanese workers and youth: here.

4 thoughts on “Japan’s new prime minister

  1. Pingback: Japanese disasters, social, not just natural | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Anti-nuclear protests in Japan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Japanese islanders against unsafe military aircraft | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Japanese protest against post-Fukushima nuclear restart | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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