July 27, 2012
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on July 26 met with the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Kurt Tong at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to protest that the U.S. military forcibly brought the tilt-rotor aircraft Ospreys to the U.S. Iwakuni base (Yamaguchi Pref.) in defiance of public opposition, and urged him to cancel the plan to deploy the defective aircraft to Japan.
Shii first pointed out that in Okinawa, U.S. military aircraft accidents remind Okinawans of the horrible experiences they have endured ever since the prefecture’s return to Japan, and gave caution to the Deputy by citing the Okinawa governor’s statement that if the deployment plan is enforced, the prefecture will have to take a stance of seeking the immediate closure of all U.S. military bases in the prefecture. Shii also said that the U.S. should seriously consider the resolution opposing the Osprey deployment that the National Governor’s Association adopted because the deployment will jeopardize people’s lives across the country through the planned low-altitude flight training exercises over mainland Japan.
Regarding the fact that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta used the bilateral security to justify deploying Ospreys to Japan, Shii pointed out, “Imposition of the deployment to Japan by using the security treaty will increase public awareness that the security treaty is unnecessary.” He urged the Deputy to withdraw the deployment plan.
Tong in his reply denied that there was a forcible deployment and said that the U.S. military has been using the aircraft in question for 10 years in U.S. mainland and abroad. He stressed the safety of the Osprey by saying that the U.S. government will provide the Japanese public information in a reliable manner.
Shii recalled the talks he held with the U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Pentagon officials two years ago in which he pointed out, “The policy of returning the Marine Corps Futenma Air Station site in exchange of transferring its facilities to another location has completely failed. The situation in Okinawa has passed the point of no return.” He said, “It has been two years since the talks, but the Japanese and U.S. governments still stick to the failed policy of relocating the base within Okinawa and intend to push forward with the deployment of Ospreys to the Futenma base which the U.S. government itself describes as ‘the world’s most dangerous base’. This will add fuel to Okinawans’ anger.” He proposed, “What the U.S. government should do is to decide on the withdrawal of the Osprey deployment plan and the unconditional return of the base.”
Nodding to Shii, Tong gave his recognition of the danger of the Futenma base and the need to eliminate the danger. He, however, emphasized the importance of stationing the Marine Corps in Okinawa for national security. He expressed his position that the relocation of Futenma base within the prefecture is necessary based on Okinawa’s strategic geographical location.
Citing the world trend for “peaceful security” without relying on military power, Shii explained that conflicts between the Japan-U.S. military alliance and people of Okinawa and the rest of Japan has escalated beyond the critical point, and that Japan-U.S. relation should be changed to one based on equality and friendship by abrogating the bilateral security treaty. He then handed the JCP Diplomatic Vision to the Deputy.
At the end of the meeting, recalling that the JCP started to communicate with U.S. government officials after President Obama’s Prague speech calling for a “world without nuclear weapons” (2009), Shii requested that the U.S. government take positive action to start negotiations for an international convention banning nuclear weapons in the NPT Review Conference scheduled for 2015.
Tong replied that based on the NPT, the U.S. government will seek a path for a “world without nuclear weapons” and work to achieve that goal.
From the JCP, Vice Chair Ogata Yasuo, House of Representatives member Kasai Akira, International Commission Chief Officer Morihara Kimitoshi, from the U.S. Embassy, security department official David Shlaefer attended the meeting.