U.S. Military Base Will Stay On Okinawa
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Still, Lucy Craft reports, the issue is anything but solved.
LUCY CRAFT: For six decades, Okinawans have chafed at their status as repository for the U.S. military in Japan. Their tiny island is just two percent of Japanese territory, but houses nearly all of the tens of thousands of U.S. military based in Japan. Hopes were high that, at long last, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama would downsize the bases. When Hatoyama reneged on his promise yesterday, the reaction on Okinawa was immediate, says political observer Michael Chuchick(ph).
MONTAGNE: They're furious. They were holding up signs saying anger. They were yelling at the plane when it arrived, carrying the prime minister, saying go home, go home, (Japanese language spoken). They've had it, and now their hopes that a new government that had promised to take care of them has now betrayed them, just leaves them on the edge of fury.
CRAFT: Prime Minister Hatoyama's announcement notwithstanding, observers are skeptical the 2006 base agreement between Washington and Tokyo will go through.
MONTAGNE: In the implementation period when actual land surveys have to happen or dumptrucks have to drive through Okinawan villages, you're going to see a lot of protests. You're going to see a lot of people sitting down in the middle of the road and it's just going to be a total mess for as far out as we can see.
CRAFT: The concentration of U.S. military in southern Japan is all the more grating for Okinawans because Japan's population is in decline. Vast areas of Japan now stand mostly empty. Chuchick says the noise, pollution and crime associated with American bases makes them a hard sell anywhere else in the country.
MONTAGNE: We have a NIMBY problem - not in my backyard. No matter where you go in Japan, nowhere are U.S. forces welcome.
CRAFT: For NPR News, this is Lucy Craft in Tokyo.
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