1996年4月12日に当時の橋本龍太郎首相とモンデール駐日米大使が沖縄県宜野湾市の米軍普天間飛行場の返還に合意してから12日で20年となった。政治的な立場や主義主張にかかわらず、すべての沖縄県民が歓喜したはずの返還合意だったが、「普天間」は20年が経過してもなお市街地の中心に居座り、安全性が疑問視されるオスプレイが県民の頭上で訓練を続ける。

日米の返還合意から20年を迎えた米軍普天間飛行場=宜野湾市

 返還の実現を妨げているのは、日米両政府が条件として付けた県内への代替施設の建設。名護市辺野古の新基地建設に反対する市民の抗議行動は建設計画の日米合意直後から現在まで続く。新基地建設に反対する翁長雄志知事、稲嶺進名護市長らが新基地阻止を訴える。

 だが、日米政府は名護市辺野古の新基地建設を「唯一の解決策」との立場を変えず、辺野古沖の埋め立て承認を取り消した翁長知事を国が訴える異例の事態にまで発展。裁判所の提案による和解で辺野古での工事は中断され、国と県が協議を継続する状況だ。

 翁長知事が当選した2014年の知事選では「辺野古反対」の民意が明確に示された。これまで現行のV字形滑走路案で両政府が合意した06年から現在まで、政府案を容認する公約を掲げた候補者が知事選や国会議員、関係市町村長に当選したことはない。

 日米両政府が民意をないがしろにし、県内移設に固執し続けることは、世界一といわれる普天間の危険性を放置することを意味する。

April 12th marks 20 years since former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and U.S. Ambassador Mondale agreed to return MCAS Futenma on April 12, 1996. Regardless of the political positioning, principles or policies, this agreement should have been a great joy for all prefectural residents. Nevertheless, 20 years later, MCAS Futenma still stands in the center of an urban area, and Osprey aircraft, whose safety has been questioned, continue to train in the skies over prefectural residents.

The return of MCAS Futenma is blocked by the idea of constructing an alternative facility in Okinawa Prefecture according to terms set by the governments of both the United States and Japan. Protests by residents opposed to construction of a new base at Henoko in Nago City have continued since immediately after Japan and the United States agreed on the construction plan. Governor Takeshi Onaga and Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, who both oppose the new base, have called for construction to be halted.

However, neither the Japanese nor United States government has altered its plan for a new base at Henoko in Nago City, calling it the “only solution.” This has led to an extraordinary situation in which the central government is suing Governor Onaga, who revoked approval for land to be reclaimed off the coast of Henoko. Under a settlement proposed by the court, construction at Henoko has been suspended, and the central government and Okinawa Prefecture continue to hold discussions on the matter.

In the 2014 gubernatorial election, which Governor Onaga won, the will of the people opposing the new base at Henoko was clearly manifested. Since 2006 when both the United States and Japanese governments agreed on the current V-shaped runway plan, not one candidate who has publicly pledged his or her approval of the government’s proposal has been elected to serve as governor, Diet member, or municipal mayor.

That the governments of both the United States and Japan have disparaged popular will and continued to cling to their idea of relocating MCAS Futenma within Okinawa signifies that they refuse to address the dangers posed by MCAS Futenma, which has been called the greatest hazard in the world.