JCP chair's statement on 30th anniversary of Okinawa's return to Japan

John Manning writes: On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo held a news conference in the Diet Building on May 15th to publish a statement titled, "End the intolerable situation in the 21st century." Shii stated that he will not attend the government-sponsored ceremony to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion.

The full text of the Shii comment is as follows:

May 15 marks the 30th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan. The desire Okinawans had at the time was to realize "a peaceful and prosperous Okinawa free of nuclear weapons or military bases."

Thirty years have passed since then, and Okinawans have not got their wish yet.

Today, 75 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan are still concentrated on Okinawa, occupying 11 percent of Okinawa Prefecture. The U.S. bases have been threatening residents' lives and security with crimes and accidents repeatedly caused by U.S. soldiers, and destroying the environment that otherwise would protect the humane living conditions in Okinawa. In the last 30 years alone, U.S. soldiers committed more than 5,000 known crimes and were arrested.

As clear from the on-going plan to construct a state-of-the-art U.S. military base near U.S. Camp Schwab in Nago City, U.S. bases in Okinawa are being reinforced constantly as a permanent foothold for U.S. military interventions in the world throughout the 21st century, instead of reducing or removing them.

At the 30th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan, the economy and living standards in Okinawa are in a serious situation with the unemployment rate twice as high as the national average and people's income at 70 percent of the national average. The root cause of this situation is the U.S. military presence that has hindered Okinawa's economic development that could take advantage of the beautiful environment.

Prior to Okinawa's reversion, Yara Chobyo, Okinawa's first elected president at the time, stated that the reality is that what must not take place is actually taking place in Okinawa. By saying this, he was condemning the U.S. military bases. These bases are still the source of the suffering of Okinawans.

It's no exaggeration to say that Okinawa stands out from the rest of the world in that it has been exposed to the harsh presence of foreign military bases for more than 50 years.

As we observe the 30th anniversary of its reversion, the task is for all Japanese people to think whether or not they should be allowed to maintain the "intolerable situation" into the 21st century.

During the past 30 years, the struggle of Okinawans to free Okinawa from U.S. bases has had many turns and twists, but Okinawans' desire to overcome the reality persists.

Surveys conducted jointly by the Okinawa Times and the Asahi Shimbun showed that 87 percent of respondents answered that U.S. bases in Okinawa should either be immediately removed or reduced step by step. More people than in previous surveys, 69 percent, are opposed to the relocation of U.S. bases within the prefecture, including the planned construction of a new base in Nago City. Okinawans' wish for a peaceful and prosperous Okinawa without U.S. bases is alive and well.

The JCP, as the only party that opposed Japan's war of aggression and the despotism under the emperor system when Japan was on its way toward the tragic battle of Okinawa, renews its determination to further develop cooperation with the broad range of people and struggle for setting Okinawa free from the heavy burden of U.S. bases as quickly as possible.