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Okinawa frosty on United States base transfer

NAHA (AsiaNews): The new ambassador from the United States of America (US) to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, made her first official visit to Okinawa on February 12, which has hosted a large US military base since the end of World War II.

For the past few years, Okinawa has been embroiled in a controversy over Washington’s plan to move its sprawling base to a new location on the island.

Critics point out that the chosen site would negatively affect the local economy, as well as threaten a endangered population of dugong, large marine mammals that are also known as sea cows.

Editorials in The Okinawa Times and The Ryukyu Shimpo directly addressed the ambassador from the US, after she posted a tweet on the issue.

“The people of Okinawa have a desire to share the universal values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights with the Americans,” The Ryukyu Shimpo wrote. “Does the US government respect democracy in Okinawa?” it goes on to ask.

In a survey, nearly 70 per cent of Okinawa’s population said they are against relocating the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in Ginowan, to the Henoko coastal area in the city of Nago.

The mayor of Nago, Susumu Inamine, also opposes the relocation. He was re-elected in January on an oppose-the-base ticket, beating another candidate who backs it.

Both editorials ended with questions for the ambassador


“You expressed that you were deeply concerned by the inhumanity of drive-hunt dolphin killing,” the Ryukyu Shinpo said. “Then is it not inhumane to pose a threat to the habitat of the dugongs by destroying their feeding grounds? Or menace a population that doesn’t want your base anyway?”

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