U.S. Out of Okinawa! (and everywhere else)

The damage inherent to U.S. military bases abroad includes danger
of war and infringement of sovereignty; devastation of environments
and peoples’ health; destruction of private and commercial properties
and noise pollution. Military accidents, including release of radiation,
have cost human lives and endangered the food chain. Peoples’ lands
have been confiscated to build bases, sometimes in violation of
international law. “Host” communities – and especially women – have
been traumatized by intolerably high rate of crimes, including rape
and sexual harassment.

The damage inherent to U.S. military bases abroad includes danger
of war and infringement of sovereignty; devastation of environments
and peoples’ health; destruction of private and commercial properties
and noise pollution. Military accidents, including release of radiation,
have cost human lives and endangered the food chain. Peoples’ lands
have been confiscated to build bases, sometimes in violation of
international law. “Host” communities – and especially women – have
been traumatized by intolerably high rate of crimes, including rape
and sexual harassment.

  • Japan : There are some 130 U.S. bases with 40,000 troops all over
    the country, which include Marines, a carrier-centered task force,
    and an expeditionary air force. There are no other countries in the
    world which host such “forces of assault”. They are conducting
    aircraft night landing practices, low altitude flight exercises even
    over the urban residential areas infringing Japanese domestic law,
    and live shelling exercises. Thus outrages of “extraterritorial” privilege
    by U.S. forces are openly conducted as if they were in one of their
    “colonies”. In Okinawa, where 75 % of U.S. bases in Japan are
    concentrated, the situation is much more serious with frequent
    aircraft accidents and atrocious crimes, huge noise and environmental
    destruction. Concern is expressed internationally that a plan to
    build a new U.S. Marine base in Nago, ignoring the will of residents,
    will damage important elements of the natural environment where
    rare species such as dugongs live.

  • Korea : There are 95 bases with 37,000 U.S. troops in South Korea,
    which cover a total area of 80,000 acres. Due to these bases,
    the Korean people face the real threat of environmental disaster
    and human abuses.The Korean people, including government agents,
    are forbidden to access U.S. bases, and are denied the right know
    the environmental situation. The U.S.
    military has caused environmental destruction, including dumping
    toxic formaldehyde in the Han River in February 2000. And, at the
    U.S.Air Force’s Koonni Range 11 people have been
    killed from bombing accidents.

  • Vieques : Vieques is an island-municipality off the east coast
    of Puerto Rico. Its 9,300 inhabitants are sandwiched between an
    ammunition facility on the western end of the island and the inner
    range of the weapon testing and training facility. These facilities
    occupy 26,000 of the entire 33,000 acres of Vieques land. As a result
    of military exercise and war games, Vieques faces intense ecological
    damage, a high incidence of cancer, noise pollution, incomparable
    levels of poverty, general distress of the population, and the
    destruction of its flora and fauna. The Vieques situation is particularly
    sensitive since the navy’s military games involve chemical and nuclear
    weaponry. Puerto Ricans have clearly expressed their desire for the
    withdrawal of the naval facility through acts of civil disobedience,
    sustained protests and political lobbying. Yet the U.S. persists imposing
    its will on the people of Vieques. Many people are awaiting trial in
    Federal Court after having been arrested in civil disobedience protests.

  • Italy : The U.S. bases in Italy and the Italian Bases available for NATO
    operations represent the strategic point for the offensive intervention
    policy of the U.S.A, as happened during the recent war against Yugoslavia.
    The presence of nuclear weapons, the patrolling of nuclear powered
    vessels, and the military exercises have caused accidents, environmental
    damages and many civilian deaths. The bases are also a violation of
    engagements taken in Rio de Janeiro 1992 World Summit.

  • USA : Base damages are not limited to foreign military bases, but
    they are prevalent in U.S. communities all over the country. U.S. citizens need to become
    conscious of how militarized U.S. society has become with the huge
    military budget and hundreds of military bases in their communities
    and around the world. U.S. citizen have the responsibility to know
    how U.S. troops and bases impact people in “host” nations as well as
    to work in solidarity with people fighting to prevent war, to assist
    their struggles for freedom from military colonialization, and to
    end the damages caused by U.S. bases.

As long as bases exist, their negative impacts can not be eliminated
completely. It is necessary to remove U.S. foreign military bases in order
to finally eradicate base damages.
We call for the promotion
of international solidarity for ending the damage caused by U.S. bases
and for their removal.

Author: Joseph Gerson, Francesco Iannuzzelli, Lim Samjin, Ismael Guadalupe, Maria I. Reinat-Pumarejo and Hiroshi Suda

News Service: Statement Paper on the International Symposium of the 2000 Japan Peace Conference