There was a demonstration over the weekend against the transfer of current Futenma base facilities to another location in Okinawa:
More than 30,000 people rallied in Japan’s southern Okinawa island Sunday against plans to relocate a U.S. air base to another area on the island, demanding that the facility be moved outside the country, a news report said.
Organizers said an estimated 35,000 people participated in the two-hour rally in the city of Ginowan, site of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, Kyodo News agency said.
“The city of Ginowan strongly demands that Futenma … be shut down immediately and relocated outside of Japan,” Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha was quoted by Kyodo as saying.
The plan to move the base–agreed to by Tokyo and Washington in October–also calls for the transfer of 7,000 Marines from Okinawa over six years to the U.S. territory Guam and the shifting of some operations to other cities on Japan’s main islands.
Okinawa is Japan’s poorest prefecture, and areas surrounding US military installations there (well, and elsewhere, too, but especially in Okinawa) tend to have a love-hate relationship with the bases. Our personnel create entire economies that would disappear if they left; on the other hand, entertainment districts that cater to servicemen have higher incidences of street crime than do surrounding areas, and when there are off-base accidents (as in the crash of a helicopter in Okinawa a few years ago) military commanders can come off high-handed. While I support our military policy, obviously, when it comes to specific accusations of misconduct, it can be difficult to know whom to sympathize with.
Speaking of Okinawa-related characters of dubitable sympathy, I can only assume the translator who came up with the first paragraph of this piece for the Yomiuri was laughing so hard he or she could barely type:
Technical Councillor Mamoru Ikezawa, the former third most senior official at the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, was aware of the agency’s illegal bid-rigging practices, but was unable to stop them–and ended up playing a leading role.
According to informed sources, Ikezawa told agency colleagues that he would put a stop to “illegal practices.” This was an apparent reference to agency projects that included the relocation of facilities of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Ikezawa, 57, and two other agency officials were arrested in late January and have since been indicted on suspicion of rigging air-conditioning project bids.
Late last month, prosecutors served the three with fresh arrest warrants on suspicion they organized rigged bids for projects at U.S. bases in Yamaguchi and Nagasaki prefectures.
Ikezawa is suspected of putting a higher priority on amakudari–wherein retiring government officials get jobs with private firms or public-service corporations in sectors related to their previous occupations–than on putting an end to bid-rigging.
“Ended up playing a leading role”? Well, yes, I suppose it’s safe to say that means he “was unable to stop them.” I don’t see any reason to doubt that he was sincere enough about his desire to put a stop to collusion and amakudari. However, he made his choice, and I don’t see what point there is to the it’s-the-thought-that-counts qualifications now. (The Japanese version of the article, which doesn’t contain much more information than the English version, is here.)