Japan Peace Conference 2005
Liaison Council of Zama and Sagamihara Citizens Against Relocation of U.S. Army First Corps to Camp Zama
Anger is mounting at the plan to realign and strengthen U.S. military forces, agreed upon by the Japanese and U.S. governments in complete disregard of opinions of local municipalities and residents.
They plan to relocate the new U.S. Army 1 Corps command from the U.S. mainland, and the central rapid response unit of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force to U.S. Camp Zama. The new command to be set up at Zama will enable U.S. troops to make quick sorties to anywhere in the world. It means Camp Zama will become a major stronghold for U.S. forces to wage a war like the Iraq War together with Japan's SDF. We cannot accept this U.S. base reinforcement plan.
On November 18, the Zama Citizens' Liaison Council against the U.S. Army Command Relocation to Camp Zama held a rally. Zama City Mayor Hoshino Katsuji said, "The national government promised to take our opposition seriously, but it broke the promise. I cannot contain my anger." At the rally, we made a fresh resolve to rapidly develop our movement calling for the withdrawal of the Japan-U.S. interim report on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
The Citizens' Liaison Council was founded last October. With Mayor Hoshino being its chair, it consists of the city assembly and residents' associations. The Council put up a big banner carrying the slogan, "No to Relocation!" in 15 public facilities, such as the city hall, public facilities and schools. It displayed 600 posters on the bulletin boards of residents' associations in different places, and put stickers on 45 public vehicles, including garbage trucks. In April, residents' associations in each community began collecting signatures in opposition to the U.S. Army Command relocation plan. The mayor and city assembly members took a lead in collecting signatures at train stations and at city festivals. In a short period of time, we collected 60,000 signatures which accounted for about half of the population. Mayor Hoshino submitted these signatures to the central government.
U.S. Camp Zama extends over Zama City and Sagamihara City. The Sagamihara city, with the population of 600,000, also has the Citizens' Liaison Council against the relocation and you can see the similar banner on the wall of the Sagamihara City Hall set up by the Council. With Mayor Ogawa in the forefront, the Sagamihara Citizens Liaison Council has so far collected 210,000 signatures, and it successfully held a citizens' rally on November 13.
It is the first time for me to witness all these visible developments of the movement, and now I am really convinced that citizens share a wish to live in a safe and peaceful city without military bases.
Last December, we held a rally at Yatoyama Park in Zama City. The success of this rally led to the formation of the Liaison Council of Zama and Sagamihara Citizens Against Relocation of U.S. Army First Corps to Camp Zama in February. Since then, we have developed our campaign, carrying out seminars, awareness raising activities, and signature collecting. We have also made representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Defense Agency.
In order to block the U.S. Army Command from being transferred to Zama, a nationwide rally is going to be held on November 26 in parallel with the Peace Conference.
The U.S. military realignment plan leads to strengthened functions of all military bases in Japan. I will do my utmost to make success of the rally, and finally to get all U.S. military bases withdraw from Japan.