The Guardian March 1, 2000


G8 to shelter in US "Military Base Island"

In July 2000, the Summit Meeting of major capitalist countries (Group of 
Eight) will be held in Okinawa, Japan.

The Japanese people are not happy with the idea of Okinawa hosting the 
Summit and the Communist Party of Japan issued a statement explaining why 
it is so.

"Okinawa is symbolically called the `Military Base Island'. Ever since 
World War II ended in 1945, for more than half a century Okinawa has been 
made to serve as a military base for US forces", says the statement.

"We believe it is necessary to inform the world's people of the problems 
imposed on Okinawa by the military bases, particularly because the Summit 
is going to be held in Okinawa in the final year of the 20th century."

The present Okinawa is so overcrowded with US military bases and facilities 
that it is often said that "the bases are not in Okinawa, Okinawa is among 
military bases".

It is certainly not an exaggeration. In the island prefecture of 1.3 
million people there are 27,000 US troops. The US bases are situated right 
in the midst of very populated areas.

For instance, Kadena Air Base takes up 83 per cent of the land area of 
Kadena Town, forcing more than 10,000 residents to live in the remaining 17 
per cent of the land. 

The US bases on Okinawa are there to control operations in the Asia-Pacific 
region. They are not there to "protect" Japan: the US military is there to 
protect the US's strategic interests in the region.

The fact that the Group of Eight Summit is going to take place in Okinawa 
suggests that the most industrialised countries in the world were looking 
for a "safe" place, free of protests against their policies, to hold their 
meeting.

The Seattle protests must have rattled the rich and powerful somewhat.

And is it not appropriate that multinational corporations feel a need to be 
protected by the military to such an extent that even a supposedly purely 
economic meeting has to take place under the protection of US marines?

But they may not have escaped protest actions, as suggested by the results 
of a survey conducted by the prefecture asking: "What is the most important 
issue Okinawa should appeal to the world about on the occasion of the 
Summit?".

The largest number of respondent (44.6 per cent) chose "US Base problems" 
followed by the "peace-loving heart of the Okinawan people" (33.2 per 
cent).

In other words, the Okinawan people want the US bases out and they also 
want to make sure that those taking part in the Summit know about their 
feelings.

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