SNA (Birmingham) — Japan is opening operation today, January 12, of a caller basal intended to beryllium utilized chiefly by the US subject connected the uninhabited land of Mageshima successful Kagoshima Prefecture, contempt years of absorption to the arguable program and a questionable process by which the land was acquired by the government.
The basal subject contented which the caller Mageshima basal is meant to code is the deficiency of a imperishable tract bearer landing signifier (FCLP) portion for US troops successful Japan. For galore years, specified exercises person been conducted connected a impermanent ground astatine distant Ioto (Iwo Jima), thing which has agelong been a root of ailment wrong the Pentagon.
After a US-Japan “2 + 2 Meeting” (bilateral gathering betwixt overseas and defence ministers) successful 2011, the Ministry of Defense agreed to supply an alternate FCLP portion successful a much conveniently located portion of Japan, with Mageshima identified arsenic the champion location.
The 2 countries aboriginal explained that “a imperishable FCLP installation volition greatly lend to the harmless cognition and grooming of US forces,” which has go a higher precedence successful the portion owed to concerns–justified oregon otherwise–about mainland China’s increasing subject capabilities.
However, the process by which the Japanese authorities acquired Mageshima for usage by the US subject is suggestive of underhanded dealings.
The land has had aggregate owners. Picking up from 1974, it was bought by the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). The megabank had plans to physique leisure and edifice facilities connected island–administratively portion of Nishioomote city–which contiguous has a colonisation successful excess of 16,000 people.
But SMBC’s edifice plans fell through, and successful 1983 it offered to merchantability the land to the Ministry of Defense for ¥2 cardinal (US$15.1 million) for imaginable usage arsenic a radar base. In those much peaceful times, the Ministry of Defense had nary interest.
After a fig of different phases, successful 1995 the land was sold for an undisclosed magnitude to Tokyo-based Taston Airport Company, which conceived of the land arsenic location to an airport, and successful information it constructed a 4,000-meter-long runway by 2007.
But it was successful 2011–after the US-Japan 2+2 Meeting–that the contented was genuinely transformed by the caller conception that Mageshima was important for the US-Japan Alliance and frankincense for nationalist security. It is notable that this translation came conscionable astir a twelvemonth aft the medication of Yukio Hatoyama had been taken down mostly implicit the contented of plans to physique a caller US Marine airbase astatine adjacent Henoko formation successful Okinawa.
The Ministry of Defense’s program to instrumentality implicit Mageshima, however, did not proceed smoothly.
The Taston Airport Company had its ain plans for the land which it did not privation to springiness up. This was peculiarly existent of institution President Isamu Tateishi.
It was astatine this clip the communicative becomes murky.
Tateishi, who was present lasting successful the mode of cardinal authorities information plans and a basal statement with the Pentagon, was abruptly deed by a bid of misfortunes.
While his asking terms for the land was ¥20 cardinal (US$151 million), the Ministry of Defense offered him lone ¥11 cardinal (US$83 million), which lone confirmed him successful his resistance.
At the aforesaid time, determination was speech that the Kagoshima prefectural authorities mightiness revoke Taston Airport’s operation permits implicit alleged biology infractions.
Moreover, Tateishi soon recovered himself charged with taxation evasion, an discourtesy for which helium was yet sentenced to two-and-a-half years successful prison.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the caller institution president proved overmuch much receptive to the government’s “requests.” In 2019, Taston Airport Company agreed to merchantability the land to the authorities for ¥16 cardinal (US$121 million).
Having frankincense acquired ownership, the Ministry of Defense inactive needed to flooded governmental absorption from section fisherman, environmentalists, and authorities successful Nishioomote city, nether whose jurisdiction the land lay.
In particular, Nishioomote Mayor Shunsuke Yaita led the opposition, citing the information that sound levels coming from the caller subject basal and its craft grooming exercises were apt to disrupt the bid of caput of section residents and perchance person a important antagonistic interaction connected the economically-important sportfishing industry.
There was besides interest from environmentalists and others astir the destiny of the mageshika, an endangered subspecies of cervid which lives connected the island, which galore fearfulness mightiness spell extinct aft it becomes a subject airbase. On online Japanese-language petition calling for the extortion of the mageshika gathered implicit 17,000 signatures.
After a bid of meetings with Defense Ministry officials, Yaita declared successful October 2020, “we bash not o.k. of the plan. We’ll suffer much than we’ll gain.” He added, “we are acrophobic that the cardinal authorities volition proceed with the task dilatory successful stages to make a fait accompli… Once you o.k. the US bases, home instrumentality cannot enactment an extremity to their presence.”
Unlike the businessman Tateishi, the person Yaita yet bent alternatively than broke. Understanding that the nationalist authorities was moving guardant to physique the caller basal with oregon without his consent, Yaita acknowledged past November that “this contented has moved into a caller stage.” He further explained: “although my presumption hasn’t changed, arsenic the typical of section residents, I felt I could not promote part among them.”
With this retreat by the absorption forces, the operation of the basal present begins.
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Tagged with: 2+2 Meeting, China, Henoko (Okinawa), Isamu Tateishi, Iwo Jima (Tokyo), Japanese (language), Kagoshima Prefecture, Mageshika, Mageshima (Kagoshima), Ministry of Defense, Nishioomote metropolis (Kagoshima), Shunsuke Yaita, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Taston Airport Company, Tokyo, United States, US Department of Defense, US Marine Corps (USMC), US-Japan Alliance, Yukio Hatoyama