米軍普天間飛行場が建設された場所は沖縄戦の前、宜野湾村(当時)の集落があった。村役場や宜野湾国民学校もあり、南北には宜野湾並松(ジノーンナンマチ)と呼ばれた街道が走る生活の中心地だった。

戦前(1944年)の宜野湾村と普天間飛行場の重ね図

 宜野湾市史によると、沖縄戦前年の1944年、宜野湾村には22の字があり、人口は1万3635人だった。普天間飛行場の敷地には、そのうち14字にまたがっている。普天間飛行場は8800人が生活していた土地を奪い、村の中心に建設された。

 宜野湾へ侵攻した米軍は占領と同時に土地を強制接収し、滑走路の建設を始めた。住民は沖縄戦終結後の10月以降に順次、収容所や避難先から帰村が許されたが、多くが古里に戻れず、米軍に割り当てられた飛行場周辺の土地で、集落の再編を余儀なくされた。

 翁長雄志知事は昨年12月の辺野古新基地建設をめぐる裁判の意見陳述で、「(県民が)収容所から古里に帰ってみると普天間飛行場をはじめ米軍基地に変わっていた」と語り、土地が強制的に接収されたと訴えた。

Before the Battle of Okinawa, the former community of Ginowan Village occupied the space where MCAS Futenma was later constructed. The village municipal office as well as Ginowan National Elementary School and the main thoroughfare of life in the village was Jinoon-nan-machi, which ran north and south.

According to the official history of Ginowan City, Ginowan Village comprised 22 districts and had a population of 13,635 in 1944 just before the Battle of Okinawa. Fourteen of those districts where located in or across the present site of the airbase. The land where 8,800 people once lived was taken by force to construct MCAS Futenma in the center of what was Ginowan Village.

The U.S. military, which invaded Ginowan, forcibly expropriated land as a policy of occupation and began constructing the runway. In October after the battle ended, residents were gradually allowed to return home from internment camps and evacuation sites. However, many citizens were unable to return because their homes and land had already been seized. As a consequence, these citizens were forced to rebuild their communities on land around the airfield, which had been reallocated by the US military.

In a statement filed in December of last year in the case contesting construction of a new base at Henoko, Governor Takeshi Onaga raised the matter of the forcible land expropriation, stating, “When [Okinawa Prefecture residents] tried to return to their homes from internment camps, the land had been transformed into MCAS Futenma and other US military bases.”