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Symposium on Futenma Base Problems
Date: 15:00-18:00 Sunday, August 7, 2005
Venue: Okinawa International University, Bldg. #7, Room #201
Sponsor: Ginowan City, Co-sponsor: Okinawa International University
Support: Various organizations in Ginowan City, Okinawa media companies
One year after the crash, what should Okinawa do now?
*Summary
In approaching the first anniversary of the USMC helicopter crash in the Okinawa International University (OIU), Ginowan City and the OIU co-organized the "Symposium on Futenma Base Problems" on August 7, 2005 at the University. A topic of the symposium was "One year after the crash, what should Okinawa do now?"
About three hundred participants including citizens and students listened to a keynote speech delivered by Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha and the following panel discussion. Seven panelists from the university, the nearby community, local governments and media actively exchanged their opinions regarding the crash and the recent development of the US base reorganization in Japan. The symposium stressed the importance of Okinawa's unified and unflinching voices and continuous efforts to eliminate the danger of Futenma Air Station and to actualize the immediate closure of the base.
*Keynote Speech by Mayor Yoichi Iha
*Panel Discussion
"Legal problems emerged from the helicopter crash"
The Okinawa International University (OIU) passed a resolution to protest against the crash, demanding a halt to aircraft flights from Futenma Air Station and the immediate removal of the base. The crash brought to light legal problems associated to the US bases on Okinawa. US Military cordoned off the crash site and roads, exclusively controlling within and around the site. Even the president and employees of the university, as well as local authorities, were not allowed to access to the site, which violated local authority's rights to investigate the crash. Series of actions of the US military after the crash were illegal and groundless.
As helicopter training flights from Futenma Air Station has returned to the level before the crash, the university, protesting the flights, decided to put up a balloon from the top of one of the university buildings. We believe raising the balloon, even though it becomes an obstacle to the flights, would not violate any law of Japan. The university will do whatever it can do in order to remove the air station.

Professor Masayuki Ibata, Okinawa International University
"Quiet environment without helicopter noises for our children"
I came here out of my strong determination that nobody, especially no child should not experience the fear I underwent when the helicopter crashed just before our house.
When the crash happened, I instinctively grabbed my six-year-old son and rushed out of the house. Then I heard several explosions. Our house was messed with broken window glasses and debris from the crash site. It was hardly forgettable and still now I'm trembled out of anger every time I recall a series of events on that day.
I spent a lot of sleepless nights after the crash. I cannot describe how I felt the crash. The only thing I know is that we must protect our children and should not let them experience such anxiety. In this April, as the helicopters began to conduct circular training flights over Ginowan communities, our life with fear and anger resumed. Since then, I have always kept my children beside me in fear of another helicopter crash. I sincerely hope that they will stop the helicopter trainings so that quiet environment on Okinawa will be realized as soon as possible.

Ms. Katsura Nakamura, a representative of a community who lives near the crash site
"Let's take positive action toward the return of Futenma Air Station"
I was in the campus of the Okinawa International University when the crash occurred. Immediately after I witnessed the helicopter dropped, I rushed to the nearby convenience store and bought an instant camera to take pictures of the crash scene. As I was taking the pictures, US soldiers rushed to the campus and soon placed control over the site. I was stopped by them to access to the site. From that experience, I learned that our ordinary life was easily abused by military actions. I would not have thought military base problems as our own problems if I had not experienced the crash. I went to the United States this summer as one of Ginowan delegates. During our stay in the US, I was often disappointed by the fact that not many people paid their attention to US base problems on Okinawa. At the same time, I realized the significance of young generations' voluntary-and-proactive involvement in the US base issues. I would like to continue to do whatever effort I can as a student to struggle with the hard-to-resolve Okinawa's base problems.

Mr. Yuji Shinzen, a student of Okinawa International University
"US bases in Italy place a high priority on community life."
I visited Italy to research US military bases and operations there for our special report, Anpo no Genba, or Scenes of Security.
Considerations to citizens' life environment are the premise of the presence of the US bases in Italy. All domestic laws are applicable in the bases. Italian military has control over US bases, which makes it possible that US aircraft are prohibited to fly over communities during long-hour siesta. Judging from only this fact, we know that, unlike US forces in Japan, those in Italy conduct military operations with full considerations to the local communities' life.
There are two types of US military operations in Italy. They differentiate operations in peacetime from those in wartime. That is one of the clear distinctions in military operations between Japan and Italy. Because their operations in Japan are conducted on the supposition of the contingency, when an aircraft crash, such as the last year helicopter crash, happens off base, local authorities cannot access to the crash site to investigate it. This is a very strange and unfair system. I think we have to point out this unfairness in order to change the current system of US military operations in Japan.

Mr. Tomohiro Yara, a correspondent of The Okinawa Times
"Problems of the dual structure of US bases in Japan"
On the day of the crash, I hurried to the scene to report it. When I arrived at Okinawa International University, the crash site had already been sealed by the Marine Corps. The US forces rejected an on-site investigation requested by the local police and they tried to suppress citizens with forces. I witnessed the US forces executed the military-first policy and infringed the citizens' human rights even when the crash occurred off-base.
On the contrary, when US military aircraft crashed on the mainland of Japan in the past, Japanese police were allowed to investigate the crashes. Through the last year crash and its aftermath, the Okinawan people saw differences between the mainland of Japan and Okinawa as well as between America and Okinawa. Life of every single citizen should be protected by a country, though in Okinawa, people who live with US bases are unjustifiably affected by the government's overt "double standards", which I think is a serious problem.
The Okinawa's situation will remain same unless the Japanese government changes its US-oriented policy. Now Okinawa is being questioned whether it will accept a Futenma alternative facility within Okinawa. We have to seriously consider whether it is really impossible to move the Futnema outside of Japan. In Asian nations, I am very interested in the Philippines as a possible candidate country to accept it.

Mr. Tsuyoshi Matsumoto, a correspondent of The Ryukyu Shimpo
"Eliminate the danger posed by Futenma Air Station"
Bilateral talks about the reorganization of the US bases in Japan are now at the final stage. The Government of Okinawa Prefecture has already presented its four requests to both US and Japanese governments, including moving Marine Corps outside Okinawa and reviewing military operations of Kadena Air Base. At this point, however, responses from the Japanese government to our requests are very ambiguous.
Incidents and accidents caused by the US forces, such as the last year helicopter crash, continue to occur in Okinawa after WW‡U. It is significant for us to keep bringing up our concerns until our burden is eased. I am certain that the land of the Futenma base will be returned as a result of the ongoing negotiations. I also believe that taking the recent development into consideration, relocating part of functions of the Futenma to the Kadena is impossible.
I am carefully watching both governments' move how they adjust the reduction of the burden and the maintenance of US deterrent in the region, and what kind of a provisional measure they take in order to eliminate the danger caused by the Futenma operations.

Mr. Yoshihiko Higa, Senior Counselor for Policy, Okinawa Prefecture
"Moving the Futenma to the US is possible"
After visiting the US, I became fully convinced that the reduction of the US military presence on Okinawa and the relocation of the Futenma's functions to the US are very possible. The entire people of Okinawa should ask the Japanese government to seek a breakthrough of the base problems. At the same time, it is critical that we continue to directly explain our problems to the US government. CONUS military bases operate with the most careful consideration to surrounding communities, which is the basic perception of US military in order to co-exist with the communities. Then why can't they do the same in Okinawa? They must go back to the United States if they cannot give sufficient considerations to the Okinawan people.

Mayor Yoichi Iha, Ginowan City
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