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Japanese island community split over US army base Camp Schwab expansion as mayoral election looms

Japanese island community split over US army base Camp Schwab expansion as mayoral election looms
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   Julian Ryall UPDATED : Saturday, 3 Feb 2018, 8:33PM  2 EAST ASIA There is effectively only one issue that will decide Sunday’s mayoral election in the smalltown of Nago, in Okinawa Prefecture. But it is one that has pit neighbour against neighbourand family members against each other.“This is a really tight-knit community and if you asked their personal feelings, I don’t thinkanyone would say they want the US base to be enlarged,” said Hideko Otake, who isinvolved in the campaign against the development of the US Marine Corps’ Camp Schwab.“But equally, there are a lot of companies who will bene ! t from having the Americans hereand people in business are putting pressure on their employees to vote in favour of theplan.“There are other groups that have effectively been bought by the government, such as thelocal ! shing cooperative, who took a payoff because the work is going to affect theirbusiness, so now the ! shermen work as security guards,” she said. Advertisement  Japan !""#$%%&'()&#')*&%+,-(%.(/.%,.("0.(/.%.1"/)2,%3454678%9.#.+,(,0/(2.+:0)*&&;+/"<0(#2/"0*=,10;(0.1&<0>.(,0).&#0()!-.> 3?46%?3%?@ 8B5CD.E, 4 *F 4@  “It is all creating a lot of pressure in the community.”Nago sits astride the main island of Okinawa and, since 1959, has been home to CampSchwab. Locals have largely tolerated the US troops at the base, with the few accidents orpetty crime – sometimes punctuated by more serious incidents – grudgingly accepted as afact of life for Okinawan communities living with American bases in their midst.Criminals smuggling gold into Japan concealed bars in aeroplane toilets as gangs growmore sophisticated in their tactics STEPHEN NAGY But local attitudes began to change a decade ago, when Tokyo and Washington agreed toclose the Marine base at Futenma, in central Okinawa, and relocate thousands of troops toGuam, the Korean Peninsula and northern Australia. Several thousand more are to betransferred to Camp Schwab, where work is under way to construct two new offshorerunways and a host of new installations and facilities. Enter your email address  CHINA AT A GLANCE Get updates direct to your inbox By registering you agree to our T&Cs & Privacy Policy There is also growing evidence that China ispumping money into the anti-base groups inorder to delegitimise the US bases   219 SHARES Enter your email address BEFORE YOU LEAVE... Like this story? Find others like it by signing up for our newsletter. SIGN UP By registering you agree to our T&Cs & Privacy Policy   EWSLETTERSHKCHINAASIAWORLDCOMMENTBUS WE RECOMMENDEAST ASIA Okinawa election win paves way for Abe to relocate USairbase EAST ASIA  Japan left few options as Rusends warplanes to disputeislands EAST ASIA  Japan is installing new radasystems on islands to catchChinese EAST ASIA One dead, one missing after Japanese army helicopter cr ECONOMY Who will win if Hainan follMacau to become a gambleparadise? EAST ASIA Dad of North Korean captiv Warmbier is US guest at Olyceremony DIPLOMACY & DEFENCE China bans exports of more use goods to North Korea DIPLOMACY & DEFENCE !""#$%%&'()&#')*&%+,-(%.(/.%,.("0.(/.%.1"/)2,%3454678%9.#.+,(,0/(2.+:0)*&&;+/"<0(#2/"0*=,10;(0.1&<0>.(,0).&#0()!-.> 3?46%?3%?@ 8B5CD.E, 3 *F 4@  Sunday’s election has effectively become a referendum on whether the base should beaccepted or whether it should be closed down.Recent opinion polls suggest incumbent mayor, Susumu Inamine, has the support of 63 percent of local residents who oppose more US troops in the neighbourhood.It is a position is shared by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who has widespread localsupport for his campaign to reduce and ultimately remove all the US bases and personnelfrom the prefecture.On the other side of the electoral coin, Taketoyo Toguchi is campaigning to reinvigorate thelocal economy with more new faces, which he said will help support hotels, restaurants, theconstruction sector and countless other businesses. Toguchi has the support of the nationalgovernment and, if he wins, is expected to receive funds from Tokyo to support the town’seconomy.Flags of our fathers: a Japanese couple's incredible storyBut critics say the base’s expansion work will cause untold damage to the local " ora andfauna and fear their community will be unable to cope with such a large in " ux of UStroops. They say there is too little local entertainment for base personnel and it couldcause an increase in crime.But Otake has a more fundamental reason for her opposition.“The base is not needed for the defence of Japan and building it here it will only serve toincrease the threat to local people’s lives,” she said. “If there is another con " ict, the basewill become a target.” Advertisement !""#$%%&'()&#')*&%+,-(%.(/.%,.("0.(/.%.1"/)2,%3454678%9.#.+,(,0/(2.+:0)*&&;+/"<0(#2/"0*=,10;(0.1&<0>.(,0).&#0()!-.> 3?46%?3%?@ 8B5CD.E, 5 *F 4@  Now 73 years since the battle for the Japanese islands, during the closing stages of thesecond world war, Otake asked why is Okinawa once again to be “sacri ! ced in the name of the security of Japan?”But while local opposition is strong, there is a growing sense among many Japanese thatthe nation, now more than ever, must be prepared to fend off threats posed by some of itsAsian neighbours.“Over the past year or so, North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests, as well asChinese submarines being detected just off the coast here, have changed the tone of thedebate,” said Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’sInternational Christian University.“Japan as a whole has also enjoyed something of an economic uptick in that time and Ithink that has taken a bit of the disgruntlement out of the issue,” he said.“There is also growing evidence that China is pumping money into the anti-base groups inorder to delegitimise the US bases.”He said some people in Beijing have voiced the opinion that Okinawa is historically a partof China.“My sense is that there is much more support in the broader Japanese society forenhancing the security of the nation’s islands and that is one of the main reasons forShinzo Abe being voted in as prime minister,” Nagy said.But the people of Nago are largely concerned with their local communities, rather than thebigger picture, and their vote is likely to re " ect that. MORE ARTICLES BY  Julian Ryall  Japan left few options as Russia sends warplanes to disputed islands Japan is installing new radar systems on islands to catch ChineseHow a blogger stirred the ghosts of Japan’s suicide forest !""#$%%&'()&#')*&%+,-(%.(/.%,.("0.(/.%.1"/)2,%3454678%9.#.+,(,0/(2.+:0)*&&;+/"<0(#2/"0*=,10;(0.1&<0>.(,0).&#0()!-.> 3?46%?3%?@ 8B5CD.E, G *F 4@   READ COMMENTS MORE ON EAST ASIA WORLD Kim Jong-unappoints newhead totighten controlover… EAST ASIA Dad of NorthKorean captiveOtto Warmbieris US guest at… Agence France-Presse UPDATED : Monday, 5 Feb 2018, 9:42PM EAST ASIA One crew member was con ! rmed dead and another was missing on Monday after a Japanese military helicopter crashed in a residential area in the southwest of the country,reportedly injuring a local girl and setting a home on ! re.A 26-year-old co-pilot was found unconscious following the crash in the town of Kanzakiand later con ! rmed dead, a defence ministry spokesman said.“We are still searching for the 43-year-old pilot,” the spokesman said, retracting earlierremarks made by Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who said both crew members on Defence !""#$%%&'()&#')*&%+,-(%.(/.%,.("0.(/.%.1"/)2,%3454678%9.#.+,(,0/(2.+:0)*&&;+/"<0(#2/"0*=,10;(0.1&<0>.(,0).&#0()!-.> 3?46%?3%?@ 8B5CD.E, 7 *F 4@
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