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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Group hopes U.S. ad raises awareness of Futenma


Staff writer

Concerned about the lack of information in the U.S. regarding the relocation of a marine base in Okinawa, a network of Japanese and U.S. citizens and nongovernmental groups announced Wednesday plans to take out a full-page ad on the controversial issue in a major U.S. newspaper.

Established Wednesday by various academics, journalists and NGO members, the Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa (JUCO) network is allied with organizations in the U.S. including the Cato Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Biological Diversity.

According to the organizers, the network is aiming to raise ¥6 million to place a full-page ad in a major U.S. newspaper by the end of March, before the Japanese government finalizes its decision on the relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

The members are now considering several newspapers to decide which would have the biggest impact on U.S. citizens.

"One of the reasons why (the Futenma relocation issue) is not moving forward is because it is an issue unknown to most U.S. citizens and politicians," said Jun Hoshikawa, the executive director of Greenpeace Japan. "This is a common problem among both Japanese and U.S. people and we decided to join hands and form a network to bridge Japan and the U.S."

Rose Welsch, a Tokyo resident and representative of U.S. for Okinawa, a peace action network made up of foreign and Japanese nationals residing in Japan, said most Americans are unaware of the Futenma issue and contends it is not their will to build more military facilities in Okinawa.

"But when U.S. citizens do have the chance to learn about what's going on, we are appalled, absolutely appalled," Welsch said. "And the more we learn the truth, the more strongly we start to feel we don't want our government to operate an enormous, dangerous base in the middle of a densely populated city, which is something that would never be allowed in our own country."

Under the original agreement between Japan and the U.S., the Futenma aircraft operations were to be moved to Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, in the northern part of Okinawa Island.

But World Wide Fund for Nature Japan's Shinichi Hanawa said international attention has now focused on preserving the biodiversity of Oura Bay near Henoko. Hanawa added that the United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity and that Nagoya is to host the 10th Conference of the Parties in October.



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The Japan Times

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