Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2003 International Symposium
Special Report


Takehisa Hirayama


Issues of U.S. Bases in Japan

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak. I am Takehisa Hirayama of the Japan Peace Committee. I would like to speak on the situation related to U.S. military bases in Japan.

The cruiser that took part in the first missile attacks against Iraq on March 20, 2003 had homeported at Yokosuka. Next February, 3,000 Marines are reported to be dispatched to Iraq from Okinawa. The U.S. maintains its military bases and facilities in Japan based on the bilateral military alliance called the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. However, in reality, the use of these bases has deviated from the scope of the treaty and they are now being used as sortie bases for U.S. wars of aggression on a global scale.

U.S. military bases ミ Navy, Air Force, Marines and Army -- are stationed across the territorial land of Japan, with the total of 51,700 troops as of September 2001. The number of bases and facilities in Japan exceeds 140, including those Japanese Self-Defense Force bases used jointly by the U.S. military, as provided for by Article 2-4B of the Status of Forces Agreement of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. This makes the official total number of the U.S. bases appear less than the real number. (For example, Iruma Air SDF Base is used by the U.S. military as part of the U.S. Yokota Air Base, but is not included in the official counting.) The total area of these U.S. bases is 1,010 km2, equivalent to 46% of Japanユs capital Tokyo. This area is approximately the same as the total area exclusively used by the U.S. forces in 1955, three years after the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect.

The first outstanding character of the U.S. Bases in Japan is found in the formation of a huge group of bases located in Japanユs metropolitan area, centering on Tokyo, which is called by the U.S. military メKanto Plain Base Conglomerateモ. 7,140,000 m2 of area of Tokyo is taken by U.S. Yokota Air Base, where the Headquarters of the United States Forces, Japan, and the Fifth Air Command are located. In the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base is the 7th Fleet Headquarters and many military installations are deployed around the area.

Secondly, the Marineユs Third Expeditionary Force is stationed mainly in Okinawa. The details of the situation will be discussed in the special report from Okinawa.

Thirdly, U.S. Navy and Air Force, major forces in wars of intervention and aggression outside the territory of Japan, have their presence in Japan. The Seventh Fleet of the Navy in charge of the Pacific west to Hawaii is stationed at Yokosuka, which is located at the opening of Tokyo Bay, serving as the homeport of the Carrier Battle Group. The Air Force stations its Fifth Command in Capital Tokyo and places its fighter units in Misawa AB in the northern Japan and in Kadena AB in Okinawa. The F16 fighters of Misawa and F15 fighters of Kadena had been included in the rotations of Aerospace Expeditionary Force even before the war on Iraq started, and were conducting warning and surveillance operations in the no-fly zones in the air-space of Iraq, designated by the U.S. military.

Fourth, Sagamihara (Kanagawa), Urasoe (Okinawa), Sasebo (Nagasaki) and others are made to serve as forward-deployed logistic bases, accommodating many supply bases, warehouses and ammunition depots.

Fifth, U.S. bases in Japan are part of the electric wave intelligence system, as seen in a receiving station of Echelon, the global electric wave monitoring system, located in Misawa AB, Aomori.

Sixth, U.S. military secures and uses vast areas of Japanese territory as its exercise and training fields, including those of the Japanese SDF.

Therefore, the U.S. Military Forces and their bases in Japan as a whole are playing essential part in the U.S. global strategy.

Consequently, these bases have been inflicting unbearable sufferings to the people living adjacent to them. As many of these bases are located in urban areas, noise pollution and crash accidents of jet planes occur frequently. Ultra-low flight exercises are conducted in mountainous areas, while vast air space as well as surface and beneath the sea is offered to the U.S. military for their training. This threatens the safety of the air and sea transportation and causes frequent damage to fishing industry. Shelling exercise is also destroying natural environment.

Crimes committed by U.S. soldiers such as sexual offenses against women and other atrocious crimes, are also causing serious concerns. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two countries poses limitation to the Japanese police power, and prevents the arrest of suspected soldiers prior to indictment. Discontent among the people toward such inequality has been increasing.

Further, the Japanese government every year expends the so-called メsympathy budget モ to cover the expense of U.S. military, for which no provisions can be found in the bilateral security treaty. In FY 2003, approximately US$ 2.47 billion (272.5 billion Japanese yen; US$1 = JPN 110), amounting to 75% of the total expenditure of the U.S. military in Japan.

We cannot condone the issue of nuclear weapons being brought into Japan. Until 1972 when the administrative right of Okinawa was returned to Japan, the deployment of nuclear weapons in Okinawa had been an open secret. At the time of returning Okinawa, both governments explained that nuclear weapons would not stay there, but the reality remained unclear, since the U.S. government has taken the policy of メneither confirming nor denying (NCND)モ of the presence of nuclear weapons. Some declassified U.S. official documents proved that there had been an agreement between the two governments on bringing nuclear weapons in Japan at the time of emergency, but the Japanese government has pretended ignorance and never admitted to the fact, despite repeated questioning in the Diet debates. Meanwhile, nuclear-powered submarines often call at Japanese ports. During 2003, 11 nuclear-powered attack submarines made as many as 49 portcalls. Every time it is questioned, the government replies that nuclear weapons are not brought into Japan, as there has been no proposal for prior consultation from the U.S. side, as provided for in the Security Treaty. The government has no intention to confirm on its own accord the absence/presence of these weapons.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The movement to spread the メKobe Formulaモ nationwide is developing in Japan. Thanks to this formula adopted by the City of Kobe, by which all warships coming into Kobe Port are obliged to submit the certificate of non-presence of nuclear weapons on board prior to their portcalls, no U.S. warships have been able to enter Kobe Port. We strongly denounce the nuclearization of U.S. bases in Japan.

I recently took part in the World Social Forum held in Mumbai, India, on behalf of the Japan Peace Committee. In the dialogues there, one participant asked me, メIs Japan still under the U.S. occupation?モ I gave him rough explanation on the political history of the postwar Japan. But now I think of it, the reality of Japan in present situation is nothing but メstill under U.S. occupationモ. U.S. bases are not only deployed throughout the land of Japan, but Japan is sharing the great burden of expenses of these military bases. And the Japanese government approves of the U.S. using Japan as a sortie base for its armed attack against other countries based on its hegemonic unilateral policy in violation of international law. This is nothing but infringement of sovereignty of Japan.

After the Philippine Senate refused to adopt an agreement to extend the use of its land by U.S. military forces in 1991, the U.S. had to withdrew its bases from the Philippines. At that time, the Senate debated that stationing of foreign military bases would mean the violation of the countryユs sovereignty, which resulted in the refusal of the treaty and the subsequent removal of U.S. bases. I was very much moved to learn this later from a book. It is necessary to make this recognition shared by every one of the Japanese people: No genuine restoration of sovereignty without removal of foreign bases.

During the World Social Forum in Mumbai, メAnti-Base International Meetingモ was convened twice, in which Mr. Joseph Gerson was also present. I took part in both of them and briefly spoke about the situation of the U.S. bases in Japan and about the grass-roots movement to oppose them. There I also spoke about the Japan Peace Conference, and called for messages of peace and solidarity from Mumbai to the peace movement workers of Japan and to the people of Okinawa. I am pleased to present before you these banners full of messages from our friends all over the world. If I had been with more members from Japan Peace Committee, I could have collected lot more messages and names of people. Here, I want to convey to you the warm feelings of solidarity of these friends of peace movements who gathered in Mumbai as expressed in their messages on these 18 banners.

In the meetings, some proposals were made to create an international anti-U.S. bases network, and I fully agree that international joint efforts are necessary in our work. But I believe that the foundation for such international solidarity should be built among the people in each country, a powerful force based on the grass-roots people. The World Social Forum made me convinced that the most important task for us is to build steadily a strong movement in my own country, so that we can play a part in the "Second Superpower".