October 30, 2012
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo in talks with U.S. Embassy Political Minister-Counselor Robert Luke on October 29 held at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo protested against the recent rape of a woman by U.S. sailors and the forcible deployment of Ospreys in Okinawa, and demanded the complete withdrawal of U.S. bases from Japan.
Handing over a copy of his letter to President Barack Obama, Shii said, "The U.S. government has repeatedly said that it would tighten discipline of U.S. soldiers in Japan and take measures to prevent the recurrence of crimes, but failed to stop vicious crimes from recurring. It must be held to account."
Shii pointed out that the Ospreys routinely fly over populous areas and residential districts across Okinawa in defiance of safety rules agreed upon by the Japan-U.S. joint committee. He demanded the discontinuation of the Osprey deployment and the unconditional closure of the U.S. Futenma base.
Shii made similar points in the talks he had with U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos in April 2010, "The situation in Okinawa has passed the point of no return. The only way to solve the Futenma base issue is to remove the base without any conditions."
Shii went on to say that after the Osprey deployment and the most recent rape incident, "the situation in Okinawa has gone beyond the breaking point and Okinawans are directing their anger toward the very existence of U.S. bases." "It will become impossible for the U.S. government to maintain its bases in Okinawa. It should consider the complete removal of the bases," Shii added.
Showing his remorse for the rape incident, the minister-counselor offered an apology on behalf of his government and expressed his intention to enhance the discipline of and education for soldiers. He also said that he will deliver Shii's letter and opinions to Washington.
Regarding the Osprey flights, Minister-Counselor Luke said that the aircraft follow the bilateral agreement which requires the aircraft to avoid flying above densely populated residential areas as much as possible. He also presented his view that in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the bilateral alliance, to keep U.S. military facilities in Japan is necessary and that it is inappropriate to remove all of the bases from Japan at this time.
Shii stressed, "If the U.S. government forces Japan to host U.S. bases by using the security treaty, it will face a consequence in which the public will demand that the treaty itself should be abolished."
In the talks, the minister-counselor mentioned the JCP proposal on the territorial issue over the Senkaku Islands and expressed interest in what the JCP proposes though he did not agree with all statements made in the proposal.
Shii emphasized the importance of working out a settlement of the dispute through diplomatic negotiations in a calm manner.
The minister-counselor agreed that the territorial dispute between Japan and China should be settled through cool-headed negotiations between the two nations and that it is important for the two countries to refrain from using military means and forceful measures.