A New Proposal to Stop the New US Military Base Construction in Henoko, Okinawa
～A Call for a Just and Democratic Solution to the Issue of US Military Presence in Okinawa～
Home to some 1,430,000 inhabitants, the islands that make up Okinawa Prefecture are situated far south of mainland Japan. It is here that the United States is building a new military base in tandem with the Japanese government, despite massive opposition from the local people. With the support of the Okinawan peoples, Governor Takeshi Onaga has repeatedly submitted requests to the Japanese government demanding a halt to the base construction in Henoko, where anti-base activists are putting their lives on the line to block the construction. While Okinawa is often known as a resort island surrounded by one of most beautiful oceans in the world, it is also the site of an ongoing struggle between Japan and the US government, and the Okinawan peoples.
Some context on the situation in Okinawa:
＞ Okinawa was an independent country before Japan annexed the Ryukyu Islands in 1879.
＞ During World War II, Okinawa became the site of a ground battle intended to protect
“mainland” Japan, in which one out of four inhabitants perished.
＞ While Japan regained independence with recognition from the United Nations in 1952,
Okinawa remained under US military occupation until 1972. Even after Okinawa was
“reverted” to Japanese control, US military bases continue to occupy the islands in the name
of protecting Japan and maintaining the balance of power in the Far East. This year marks the
73rd anniversary of occupation.
＞ Okinawa hosts more than 70 percent of US military bases in Japan despite the fact that the
islands constitute only 0.6 percent of Japanese territory and its inhabitants make up just 1 percent of the total population.
＞ In 2014, the peoples of Okinawa elected Governor Takeshi Onaga, who continues to oppose
the agreement between Japan and the United States, in which the US military plans to withdraw one of its existing military bases in exchange for building a new base.
In the face of such facts, it is clear that the construction of the US military base in Henoko is much more than a local quarrel. It is an issue that concerns human rights and most importantly, the functioning of a just democracy. We are committed to the democratic ideals upheld by Americans since independence and instilled in postwar Japan. Therefore, as Okinawans living on the islands and in “mainland” Japan, we propose a new, democratic alternative to the situation in Okinawa.
Until 1879, Okinawa was part of an independent kingdom that ruled over most of the Ryukyu Islands. In the wake of Japan’s rapid transformation into a modern nation-state during the Meiji Restoration, Japan annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom, incorporating the islands into the Okinawa Prefecture. The peoples of Okinawa, who possess their own unique cultures and languages, were subjected to systematic assimilation policies under Japanese rule.
At the onset of World War II, Japan was on the offensive—as time went on, however, it became increasingly clear that Japan was losing the war. Nevertheless, the country’s leaders chose to continue fighting with a plan to stage a showdown in mainland Japan. In order to buy time while they prepared, they decided to use Okinawa as a temporary buffer against the US forces approaching the “main land.” In 1945, Okinawa became the site of one of the bloodiest ground battles between Japan and the US, which led to the deaths of at least 120,000 civilians, many of whom were women, children and the elderly. It is evident that the destruction of Okinawa resulted in large part from Japan’s refusal to surrender in the face of overwhelming US military power. Consequently, Japan surrendered within two months of its defeat in the Battle of Okinawa. Meanwhile, the US forces had already begun building military bases on the island, most of which have remained to this day.
When Japan came under Allied control at the end of WWII, Japan and the US perceived a common interest in containing the rise of communism in Asia. Given the restrictions placed on its military power after WWII, Japan became dependent on the US as its “protector.” In exchange, the US relied on Japan as an “anti-Communist bastion” in the East during the Cold War. In 1947, emperor Hirohito proposed that the US should continue to occupy Okinawa as a territory separate from Japan. As a result, when Japan gained independence as a democratic nation-state under the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952, the administrative rights over Okinawa were transferred to the US.
The 1950s saw a decline in the number of US military forces deployed in mainland Japan. Instead, the US forces, including the US Marine Corps, were forced onto Okinawa, where American soldiers took over large tracts of land and continued to build more bases. Although Okinawa was reverted back to Japanese control in 1972, the Okinawan peoples’ demands for the withdrawal of US forces were never met. With most of the bases left intact, Okinawa remained the US military’s vanguard against China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea, by which Japan sought protection. Even after its reversion, US military bases continue to occupy approximately 10 percent of Okinawan land.
Consequently, residents living alongside bases are subject to ceaseless violence and incidents—including sex crimes—committed by US military servicemen. To make matters worse, the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, signed by both governments in 1960, has often hindered the Okinawan peoples from getting a just court decision or compensation. One such case was the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three American servicemen in September 1995. When the Okinawan police requested custody of the three men, the US military refused on the grounds that the servicemen were partially exempt from local laws under the agreement. The US military’s response was met with an uproar across Okinawa, sparking a massive rally of some 85,000 people calling for the reduction of US military bases on the island. Unable to ignore the mounting outcry over decades of military occupation, the US and Japan signed the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) in 1996, which promised a future reduction in the number of US military facilities in Okinawa. However, the agreement included a provision that was unacceptable for the Okinawan peoples.
Under the SACO agreement, the US agreed to relocate USMC’s Futenma Air Station, located in the heart of the densely populated Ginowan City, an area that was once home to some 10,000 residents. Towards the end of WWII, the US military put hundreds of thousands of Okinawans into internment camps and seized land from local villagers, which left them with no choice but to build their lives around the base. Today, US military aircrafts continue to fly over residences, schools, supermarkets and government offices, an aberrant situation that would not be permitted in the US. While it is evident that the Futenma Air Station should be removed unconditionally due to the danger it poses on the local people, the US military struck a deal with the Japanese government to relocate the facility within Okinawa. As part of the relocation plan, Washington and Tokyo agreed to expand Camp Schwab, a USMC base camp in the north-eastern village of Henoko in Nago city, built in the late 1950s. Today, hundreds of people continue to stage daily sit-ins at the gates of Camp Schwab to oppose the land-fill construction in the Henoko-Oura bay.
When we look at the history of occupation in Okinawa, it seems clear that colonialism, rooted in Japanese imperialism in the 19th century, has continued to this day. Just as Okinawa was still reeling from the scars of WWII, the islands were immediately occupied by the US military and cut off from Japan’s newly established constitutional democracy. Even though Okinawa was “reverted” back to Japanese control on paper, it is clear that the democratic principles of human rights, equality and fairness do not apply to Okinawa.
So the question becomes, why is it necessary for the US military to build a new base in Okinawa of all places? The answer: It isn’t. Former US Secretary of Defense William James Perry, who served under President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 1997 and was involved in the SACO agreement, said in a 2017 interview with The Asahi Shimbun: “The question of relocating is not a military question. It’s not a security question….It had not to do with the mission (of defending Japan). It’s a political question and economic question.”
Then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told Okinawan Governor Kenichi Inamine, who strongly opposed the relocation plan in 2005: “While everyone agrees that Okinawa’s burden should be reduced, they oppose relocation when the conversation turns to the subject of where the bases should be relocated. Nobody would agree to take them. It’s about who will carry the burden necessary to benefit from peace and security.” Similarly, Japan’s former Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto stated in a 2012 interview that “the US Marine Corps can be stationed anywhere in western Japan and function, but Okinawa is the only place that is politically permissible.” Gen Nakatani, who also served as Defense Minister from 2014 to 2016, said that US military bases in Okinawa could be “dispersed to Kyushu [one of Japan’s four main islands] and other places if there are municipalities willing to take them, but it’s not possible with too many local authorities opposed to the US military.”
In other words, the reason for keeping US military bases in Okinawa is not based on military strategy, but on domestic political interests. As far as the US military is concerned, its bases could be anywhere on the Japanese archipelago and still serve as a bulwark in the Far East. For the Japanese government, however, the construction of a massive US military base on “mainland” Japan could potentially cause a political uproar that could jeopardize US-Japan relations and the security treaty itself.
Both the highly controversial Futenma Air Station and Camp Schwab in Henoko belong to the USMC. Deployed in the 1950s, the USMC constitutes 70 percent of the US forces stationed in Okinawa. From Okinawa, US Marines headed for Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan on missions that have little to do with Japan’s security, much less Okinawa’s. As for Japan’s neighboring countries, namely North Korea and China, the deployment of US forces in Okinawa poses far more risk than any potential benefit. The large number of US troops makes Okinawa a target for North Korea, which otherwise would not have any reason to attack the islands. Thus, it is inaccurate to say that the USMC, which has no capability to stop ballistic missiles, provides security to Okinawa or Japan against North Korea.
Considering the fact that China has a much larger military force compared to North Korea, it is unlikely that the USMC, a raiding force, would be of much use if a war with China were to break out. In the case of a macro-level conflict over territorial control, the MV-22 Ospreys, a staple of the USMC known for its high mobility and transportability, would only be useful in rescuing officials and civilians in between bouts of war. As for the US air force, Okinawa is home to Kadena air base, the largest US military installation in the Asia Pacific. While the Kadena air base will no doubt play a central role in a war between two superpowers, it cannot be said that its presence serves the security of Okinawa or Japan. According to the “AirSea Battle” military strategy put forth by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a Washington-based think tank that works closely with the US Department of Defense, US troops would evacuate from the Kadena air base at once in the event of a war with China. That is, the proponents of the strategy assume that China would immediately strike the military base to destroy the US military fighter aircrafts stationed at Kadena.
For Japan, the only merit of the USMC’s presence in Okinawa is its use as a deterrent. Since the USMC cannot flee as quickly as the US air force, there is a sense in which the Japanese government is holding the USMC hostage, expecting it to function as a tripwire. But even if we were to grant that the base does indeed provide deterrence, it is still true that the base could just as well be anywhere in “mainland” Japan. Given these facts, it is apparent that more than 70 percent of Japan’s US bases are stationed in Okinawa not because of US military interests, but based on Japan’s political ones. The Japanese government, knowing that the relocation of Futenma Air Station to “mainland” Japan would spark strong opposition from its citizens, continues to disregard the voices of the Okinawan peoples with its plan to forcibly relocate the base to Henoko. Hence, the current situation in Okinawa shows that out of Japan’s 47 prefectures, Okinawa is the only one that is not given a choice in the matter and therefore is not guaranteed equal treatment under Japan’s democracy.
The Principles of Democracy: Majority Rule, Minority Rights
The major premise of democracy as a system rests on the idea that citizens, each possessing individual rights to freedom and equality, collectively decide on public issues as a governing body. It follows that the more people agree with a particular issue, the better the outcome is for a democratic society, with unanimity being the ideal. However, this view of “majority rule” differs from what we call democracy today, in that we tend to value the existence of opinions that deviate from the majority in a democratic society. In fact, we have come to expect diversity in opinion and consider unanimity to be abnormal. It is through democracy that dissent is met with tolerance. The “Principles of Democracy,” published by the U.S. State Department, states the following:
“On the surface, the principles of majority rule and the protection of individual and minority rights would seem contradictory. In fact, however, these principles are twin pillars holding up the very foundation of what we mean by democratic government. Majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression. Just as no self-appointed group has the right to oppress others, so no majority, even in a democracy, should take away the basic rights and freedoms of a minority group or individual. Minorities—whether as a result of ethnic background, religious belief, geographic location, income level, or simply as the losers in elections or political debate – enjoy guaranteed basic human rights that no government, and no majority, elected or not, should remove.”
Okinawa Is a Fixed Minority
Japanese legal philosopher Ryuichi Nagao makes an important distinction between “fixed” and “non-fixed” minority groups. A “non-fixed” minority group has the potential of becoming the majority through free competition and therefore able to accept the temporary condition of being a minority. On the contrary, the minority status of a “fixed” minority group is constant under majority rule. Accordingly, Nagao states that certain freedoms and autonomy of a “non-fixed” minority group should be guaranteed and protected from the tyranny of the majority.
Let us apply Nagao’s concept of the “fixed” and “non-fixed” minority to the relationship between Okinawa and mainland Japan. Currently, over 80 percent of the Japanese public supports the existing Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and only a small percentage of citizens are calling for its repeal. (According to a public opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News on the 70th anniversary of WWII, a mere 2 percent of Japanese citizens support the dissolution of the security alliance between Japan and the U.S.) While an overwhelming minority, people who are opposed to the security alliance are a “non-fixed” minority group because they have an opportunity to become the majority in the next election. Okinawa, on the other hand, is one of Japan’s 47 prefectures and its people constitute less than 1 percent of the country’s total population. Even if all eight of the Okinawan representatives in the Japanese parliament oppose the US military construction in Henoko, Okinawa will always remain a minority group and therefore, the Japanese government is able to disregard the voices of the Okinawan peoples. But if Japan is to call itself a democracy, it must recognize and honor Okinawa’s basic rights, freedoms and autonomy as a “fixed” minority.
The Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness & Equality Before the Law
While Article 14 of Japan’s postwar constitution details a set of provisions on human rights, it is limited to rights and freedoms that have been repeatedly violated by the state throughout history and does not provide a comprehensive list. In the fifth edition of his book The Constitution, legal scholar Nobuyoshi Ashibe states that any right or freedom that is deemed essential for autonomous individuals to live with dignity should be made a “new right” based on Article 13, which enshrines the people’s “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We could also apply Article 13 to derive what we call “right to self-determination.”
Discrimination against Okinawa is apparent given the fact that the prefecture hosts more than 70 percent of US military facilities in Japan, despite being only 0.6 percent of the country’s territory. However, the issue of discrimination extends beyond the disproportionate US military presence on the islands. Despite the fact that the coercive transfer of US military bases from mainland Japan to Okinawa in the 1950s clearly violated Article 14, which guarantees equality before the law, Japan’s newly drafted constitution did not apply to Okinawa due to the fact that Japan had traded its administrative rights over the islands to the US in exchange for its own independence under the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Yet, even after the “reversion” of Okinawa to Japanese control, Okinawa still carries the undue burden of hosting the majority of US military bases. The recurring accidents and crimes committed by US military personnel, as well as pollution from the military bases, continue to threaten fundamental human rights of the Okinawan peoples, including their right to live in peace.
From time to time, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have taken up the issue of US military bases in Okinawa. In 2010, the CERD reiterated the UN Special Rapporteur’s analysis on contemporary forms of racism, which affirmed that the “disproportionate concentration of military bases on Okinawa has a negative impact on residents’ enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.”
Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that it was inevitable for US military bases to end up in Okinawa during US postwar occupation, the fact still remains that the 1996 bilateral agreement to relocate the US military air base from Futenma to Henoko was drafted more than two decades after the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. If the US military and the Japanese government did indeed require an “alternative” location for Futenma Air Station, all 47 prefectures should have been equally considered as possible candidates. Taking into account the history of US military presence in Okinawa and the disproportionate distribution of US bases, the alternative location should have ultimately been decided through national debate. The decision by the Japanese government to forcibly relocate the Futenma Air Station to Henoko shows that the issue of discrimination against Okinawa concerns not only the extreme inequality in the distribution of US bases, but the denial of fundamental rights and local autonomy to Okinawa compared to other prefectures.
Nevertheless, the Japanese courts have so far taken the issue to be solely about land area occupied by US military bases. In 2016, successive rulings by the Fukuoka High Court and Japan’s Supreme Court upheld the government’s plan to relocate the US military air base to Henoko, stating that the transfer of Futenma Air Station to the smaller Camp Schwab—which constitutes less than half of the land area occupied in Futenma—will reduce the overall burden of US military presence in Okinawa. What the courts have failed to recognize is that the decision deprives Okinawa not only of its political right to reject the construction of a new US military base in Henoko, but also its economic, social and cultural rights. That is to say, the courts have justified the discrimination against Okinawa by the Japanese government, in which Okinawa is denied the right to self-determination granted to other prefectures and therefore the Okinawan peoples’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Out of the 47 prefectures that make up Japan, Okinawa has the highest poverty rate due to its exceptionally fragile local economy. The grave economic situation in Okinawa largely stems from the devastation of the Battle of Okinawa and the subsequent US occupation that lasted for 27 years, in which the Okinawan economy was restructured to serve US interests. Under US rule, the Okinawan peoples were excluded from Japan’s social security and welfare systems and the introduction of the US dollar as its official currency caused further damage to local industries. Even after the “return” of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty, the presence of US military bases, paired with development policies designed to benefit mainland Japan, continue to perpetuate poverty in Okinawa. One must look to the structural causes of poverty to understand the internal problems facing Okinawa’s residents.
If we consider poverty as a form of “social exclusion,” many of whom are systematically excluded from Japanese society live in Okinawa. According to Nobuo Shiga, author of Theory of Poverty Reexamined: From Relative Poverty to Social Exclusion, the question of equality is a question of “equal freedom.” “The root of inequality is the ‘inequality of freedom’ and the problem is that this gap is widening,” writes Shiga. “When we ask what kind of equality we are referring to, we are simultaneously asking what equality is for.” Hence, the equality in question is not only the equal distribution of US military bases in Japan, but the Okinawan peoples’ equal right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness (Article 14) that must be guaranteed by equality before the law (Article 13). A constitutional democracy is supposed to protect individual freedom and serve as a check on power; however, it is clear from the inequality that persists between Okinawa and other prefectures that the Japanese government has not lived up to such standards.
The Development of International Human Rights Law and “Self-Determination”
The same could be said from the standpoint of international human rights laws. Hideaki Uemura, a social activist and researcher of human rights and indigenous peoples, describes the development of international human rights as stemming from the emergence of modern international law:
“The emergence of modern international law can be traced back to seventeenth-century Europe. The publishing of On the Law of War and Peace (1625) by Hugo Grotius, known as the “father of international law,” and the end of the Thirty Years’ War brought by the Peace of Westphalia (1648) marked the birth of international law, whereby the sovereignty of each nation was to be respected. Since the treaties only concerned the equality among nation-states within Europe, Western powers later used international law to justify imperialism and colonial expansion.
Nevertheless, the concept of inalienable rights (natural rights) based on the Declaration of the Rights of Man in France and the US Declaration of Independence was further developed at the end of WWII. With an emphasis on the universal guarantee of individual rights, international human rights law emerged as part of international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’ In all of the provisions outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the subject is the ‘individual’; the foundation of international human rights law is the rights an individual has against the state. Individual rights were established as rights that cannot be taken away easily by the state and were expanded to include social rights and civil liberties. In addition to individual rights as those against the state, a set of collective rights was needed to protect individual rights to the greatest extent possible. Hence, the rights of ‘peoples’ was established under the UN Charter.
In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as a multilateral treaty by which ‘peoples’ became the subject. Accordingly, Article 1 of the ICCPR recognizes ‘the right of all peoples to self-determination.’ Furthermore, Article 27 establishes the human rights of “ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities” that exist between the state and the individual. Such provisions were closely related to the United Nations’ mission of decolonization.” (Hideaki Uemura)
Constitutional scholar Sota Kimura states: “A human rights violation essentially occurs when a problem that does not harm the majority causes intolerable distress to a minority group. The concentration of US bases [in Okinawa] is an archetypal case of a human rights violation. Whereas the presence of US military bases poses an undue burden on the peoples of Okinawa, people living in mainland Japan are entitled to the Japan-US Security Treaty without sharing the burden. Hence, it is difficult for the majority to understand the distress of the minority.” (Sota Kimura, Okinawa Times.) In order to understand the current situation in Okinawa, it is crucial to not only consider its historical and structural causes, but also to view the problems as they relate to the constitution, democracy and international human rights law.
Towards a Just and Democratic Solution
The undue burden of US military presence in Okinawa concerns not only the overwhelming majority of Japanese people who support the security treaty between Japan and the US, but also opponents of the treaty who argue that US military bases do not belong anywhere on Japanese soil. If they are unable to gain majority control through elections, they must take the necessary steps to solve the inequality facing the Okinawan peoples within the constitutional framework. As a party involved, Japanese citizens must decide whether an alternative location for the Futenma Air Base is indeed necessary through a national debate; if the public deems it necessary, all prefectures must be considered as candidate locations. A democratic process is in order, especially to ensure that the bases are not imposed unfairly on areas that have less political control. The following proposal provides a roadmap for a just and democratic solution to the US military presence in Okinawa:
1. An immediate suspension of the new US military base construction in Henoko and the use of Futenma Air Station by US forces.
2. All other prefectures must be equally considered as candidate locations for a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station.
3. As a party involved, Japanese citizens must hold a public debate on the relocation of Futenma Air Station and discuss the necessity of (a) replacement facility for the Futenma Air Station and (b) US military presence in Japan.
4. If the Japanese public decides that a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station is indeed necessary, it is responsible for selecting an alternative location via a democratic process—in accordance with the spirit of the constitution—that ensures bases are not unfairly imposed on areas that have less political control.
The above steps are intended for supporters of the relocation plan as outlined in the 1996 SACO agreement between Japan and the United States. Assuming that they accept the SACO agreement as valid, they must take into account the historical burden of US military bases in Okinawa and select an alternative location in accordance with the constitutional principle of equality before the law. For those opposed to the existing Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and believe that all US military bases should withdraw from Japan, the following steps provide an alternative to the above steps:
1. An immediate suspension of the new US military base construction in Henoko and the use of Futenma Air Station by US forces.
2. As a party involved, Japanese citizens must hold a public debate on the relocation of Futenma Air Station and discuss the necessity of (a) a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station and (b) US military presence in Japan.
3. If the Japanese public decides that a replacement facility to Futenma Air Station is indeed necessary, it must recognize the unequal distribution of US military bases in Japan and consider all other prefectures as candidate locations for a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station. The public is responsible for finding a just and democratic solution in accordance with the spirit of the constitution that ensures bases are not unfairly imposed on areas that have less political control.
Even if the majority opinion does not reflect the opinion of those opposed to the security treaty between US and Japan, they are still responsible for coming up with a just and democratic solution to the unfair treatment of Okinawa. To say that Japanese citizens outside Okinawa are “responsible” is not to say that every resident of mainland Japan must prepare to host a US military base in their hometown. Nor does it mean that they should abandon their opposition to the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. What is needed is a shift in the discourse around the relocation of Futenma Air Station and the US military presence in Japan, whereby Japanese citizens to take ownership of the issues at hand. The current situation in Okinawa calls for a national debate not only on the necessity of a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station, but also on whether Japan should keep its security treaty with the US.
It should be emphasized that this proposal does not contradict the objectives of those who oppose the deployment of US military bases wholesale. By launching a national debate, citizens could also demand the repeal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and the overseas relocation of Futenma Air Station. However, such demands should be introduced through a political process, in which they are included in party platforms or put to a vote. Japanese citizens must accept and take responsibility for the outcome regardless.
It is unacceptable for Japan, as a democratic society, to disregard the undue burden placed on Okinawa simply because its people do not want to cause problems in other parts of the country. Instead, citizens should recognize the democratic value of holding a national debate, in which all prefectures are equally considered as candidate locations for the relocation of Futenma Air Station—that is, if the majority deems the relocation plan necessary. In other words, this new proposal not only addresses Japan’s responsibility to address its war crimes and colonial aggression, but also provides a blueprint for a just and democratic solution to the current situation in Okinawa.
A Call for Consistency in the Democratic Process
It goes without saying that the alternative location for Futenma Air Station within Japan must also be decided through a democratic process, should the majority of citizens decide the relocation plan is indeed necessary. Since US military bases lie outside the jurisdiction of local governments, the alternative location should not be decided at the discretion of the central government, but through careful deliberation in the National Diet, as well as local referendums in candidate locations. The question concerning the necessity of the relocation plan and the existence of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty could also be included in the national discussion. After deliberation, it is possible for citizens to decide on the repeal of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and demand the withdrawal of US troops from Japan. Even if it proves difficult to reach a consensus, giving up on a national discussion is to abandon democracy. In the words of constitutional scholar Sota Kimura, “the essence of democracy is not about majority rule, but the consideration of opposing views.” If it is decided, through national debate, that Futenma Air Station should be relocated to mainland Japan, the alternative location must be discussed by representatives in the Diet. Ultimately, a bill must be enacted into law in accordance with the outcome of local referendums. The above process is what truly constitutes a just and democratic solution to the US military presence in Okinawa.