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12. The Third Kin Town General Plan

It would probably be fair to say that a big majority of Okinawans yearn to say farewell to US bases and forces but that close to half are severely torn on the matter as a result of being to a greater or lesser extent economically tied to them. This has been reflected in domestic politics for decades. At times in the post-1972 period anti-base sentiment held sway, and at others apparent bases disinterest. At all times, however, the difference has not been overly large. In the ‘96 referendum, for example, there was just less than a 60% voter turnout, 89% of whom voted for base reductions and SOFA revision. In most democracies this would be more than enough for a clear victory to be declared, but not for Ota who decided the mandate was not strong enough. Of a total 909,832 eligible voters, 482,538 cast in favour of the proposition, 46,232 against, with 368,206 abstentions, and 12,856 spoilt ballots. In total then, 53% were in favour, 5% against, 1.4% spoilt ballots, with 40% abstaining. We know that many of the 30,000-plus military landowners were political abstainers on that day, and that linking SOFA revision and base reduction into a single proposition made scientific analysis of results difficult. Clearly, all Okinawans felt the rapists should have been handed over to local police sooner, but this did not necessarily mean they also advocated base reductions. For many the single proposition did not allow then to accurately vent their feelings.

The Nago referendum on 21st December 1997,[1] was more revealing about motive. Of a total 38,176-voters there was a high 82.4% turnout. Of this, 51.6% (16,254) rejected the SBF flatly, with 1.2% (385) against because no economic benefit was likely. Of the 45.3% (14,267) favouring the SBF proposal, 2,562 accepted flatly, while 11,705 agreed because they felt it would bring economic benefits to Nago.[2] No district-by-district breakdown was released, likely because it would have illustrated a division between the eastern districts affected by an SBF (Henoko and Kushi), and the western urban area of Nago that would remain relatively unscathed.[3] With this perspective in mind it is worth looking at municipal behaviour in the ‘96 prefectural referendum. The highest turnout was at 85.7% in Gushikawa, and the lowest at 31.4% in Ie, which makes for an average of 58.5%. Given that 60% of Kin is occupied by US Marine Corps bases and that it had been a local school girl so savagely raped by the three US servicemen, it is logical to think turnout would be high and in favour of the proposition, yet it was just 51.6% (3,857 out of 7,465). Of those voting 77.4% took Ota’s position, but looked at in the context of all voters only 40% voted in favour.[4] Under normal circumstances one sees far less complexity in municipal voting results in places like Kin since voters are generally picking between local personalities (that they or a friend or family member knows) and/or allegiance to a political party. The 1996 prefectural referendum was the first chance in the postwar period for Okinawans to vote purely on a point of principle, and as such the results are especially interesting. They demonstrated that the kind of simplistic equation one commonly finds thrown about in the case of Okinawa and its military burden (i.e., local community + US base = anti-base sentiment and anger) is just plain wrong.[5]

As was now customary an interim analysis of the 2nd Kin plan was carried out in 1991. Mayor Nakama Kikuo wrote that “we have seen great social change in recent years: with internationalisation, the information super-highway, an aging society, and greater diversification (tayoka). We have been unable to achieve all we set out to do but are progressing in line with our objectives.”[6] The aim is to create “an active community brimming with individuality”[7] factoring in broader prefectural promotion and tourist development plans and “addressing Kin’s severe geographical and social conditions.” Most of the assessed conditions and goals were in line with the 2nd Kin Plan, but there had been detailed work done on returned US base land and tourist development. This is consistent with the goal of developing proper plans that had been outlined in the 2nd plan. On the former, the fact that 4 pieces of base land[8] had been returned since 1972 apparently gave hope of more hand backs. The Blue Beach and Ginbaru Training Areas, along with military roads connecting them to Prefectural Highway No. 329, are listed as henkan yobo shisetsu (base facilities whose return is requested), both of which are to be transformed into “recreational areas.”[9] Although it does not specify how it is to be developed, Blue Beach is seen as the centrepiece for the new tourism initiative, along with Igei and Yaka beach. Old favourites, like the redevelopment of the Shinkaichi district as a unique attraction with ikokutekina funiki, or its “foreign ambience;” an environmental area around the mangroves on the Okukubi River and; the better use of existing tourist attractions like Kannonji and Okawa springs still feature, along with studies on a highway park and the potential for an awamori village at Kannonji.[10] According to the analysis, Kin “is an area with great tourist potential,” since a large US base presence can converge with tourist-recreation development.[11] There is mention of the importance of roads for development and the need for a new bypass through farm land south of the town to divert traffic from the populated areas.[12] The bypass idea, and tourism development, is also covered in the Second Kin National Land Use Plan (Dainiji Kin-cho Kokudo riyo keikaku) released at about the same time.[13] By the target year 2000, it was predicted that there would be an eighteen-fold increase in land for recreational areas, mostly converted from forest and genya.[14] Residential land was set to double, consistent with the anticipated rise in population to 11,000 by 1995.[15]

Whereas Nakama Kikuo’s statement about sweeping social change in the early-1990’s could just as well have been made by any mayor, in any town, in any country, the introduction by new Kin Mayor Yoshida Katsuhiro to the current Daisanji Kin-cho Sogo Keikaku (Third Kin General Plan) localised things by mentioning post-rape developments in the US base environment: specifically the SACO Report; the OPG’s Kokusai toshi and Kichi henkan plans, and; the Okinawa Kichi Shosai Shi-cho-son ni kansuru Kondankai (Discussion Group on US Military Base-Hosting Municipalities in Okinawa),[16] that had together thrown the cat among the pigeons on base matters [See Fig. 16 US Base Land Ownership]. In phase one of the Kichi henkan akushion puroguramu that ran from 1996-2001, the return of 10 bases was demanded, including Blue Beach and Ginbaru in Kin.[17] The OPG had long petitioned for the return of both, arguing that they “are indispensable for the revitalisation [of Kin]…upon return…Kin will convert…into industrial zones and create new employment…implementing the Blue Beach…and the Nakagawa Resort Development Plan.”[18] As has been mentioned, few took the OPG base plan seriously, but elements of it were factored into the SACO Final Report. For Kin, this included the return of Ginbaru Training Area “with the intention to finish the process” by end of March 1998 and, after many years of protests “the termination of artillery live-fire training over Highway 104” that will be relocated to SDF manoeuvre areas on the mainland “within Japanese Fiscal Year 1997.”[19] While cause for some happiness, the bitter pill to be swallowed was the fact that in order to accomplish the return of Ginbaru “a helicopter landing pad would have be relocated to Blue Beach, and some other facilities (a car washing area and fire drill practice buildings) would be relocated inside Camp Hansen.”[20] More complex again, Kin had a role to play in the return of the famous Sobe Communications Site (zo no ori) and Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield. The Sobe site would be returned by April 2001, provided “antenna facilities and…support facilities are relocated to Camp Hansen.” Furthermore, the Yomitan reversion by April 2001, depended on the relocation of the Sobe site.[21] As if Kin did not have problems enough of its own then, it now had responsibility for oiling the return of central island bases. That the report made one return dependent on another action is the main reason why hardly any recommendation has been properly accomplished.

The most positive aspect of the reinvigoration of the military base debate from Kin’s point of view was PM Hashimoto’s establishment of the Okinawa Kichi Shosai Shi-cho-son ni kansuru Kondankai (commonly abbreviated to Kondankai) in August 1996, as a low profile quasi-governmental body directed to steer clear of GOJ-OPG level economic development planning and SACO. It had two directives: to support self-reliant development in US base-hosting municipalities and; present requests to the US forces on behalf of the people in the municipalities.[22] The Kondankai was chaired by Keio University Professor Shimada Haruo and ten other individuals from business and academic circles. Most notable among these was Ryuseki Chairman and current Okinawa Governor Inamine Keiichi, and Okamoto Yukio, PM Hashimoto’s chief aide (hosakan) on Okinawa. In total, the 24 municipalities hosting bases were visited, but the most base-reliant were primarily focused on. The Kondankai recommended a total of 1-billion yen in funding for grassroots municipal promotion projects over the next seven years.[23] The Kondankai saw a dual tourism-health centre strategy as the way forward for Kin, and consistent with its natural resources. Inamine described Blue Beach as having “superb tourist resort possibilities for the future” and that there was already potential to develop a Pacific Thalassotherapy Centre[24] for the aged as well as young. It was unfortunate that the Third Kin General Plan had been approved by 24th September 1996, not long after the Kondankai began discussions and 3-months before its 7-year budget was approved, because many of the ideas discussed could have been factored in. There are Three Big Projects (san dai purojekuto) outlined in the Third Plan, but they are not as adventurous as ideas from mid-1997 onwards and, realistically, did not hold the key to success.[25] First, was the 3-billion yen Okukubi Dam, paid for by the Okinawa Kaihatsucho as part of an ongoing water resource management strategy and for Kin’s benefit. A nature park would be developed around the Okukubi mangroves, with complimentary developments for returned base sites at Ginbaru and Blue Beach.[26] Second, was a 1.3-billion yen Kin Bypass that ran off Highway 329 through farm land closer to the coastline, shifting traffic away from the population centre and linking up with the other projects.[27] The last was an Okinawa Denryoku coal-burning electricity generating plant adjacent to Hamada fishing harbour. This was the least fathomable of the three in terms of future development. Not only would this semi-automated plant create little local employment it was actually surplus to Okinawa’s generating needs and, contrary to Kin’s often-stated clean environment policy, a long-term health risk.[28] It turns out that there were government subsidies on offer for accepting the generating plant, hence Kin’s acceptance. In the context of Kondankai discussions Mayor Yoshida later mentioned far more interesting ideas, like health-related infrastructure, an emigration research centre, a Kin peace research centre (at the site of the Yaka POW camp), and a science museum.[29] Happily, common sense seems to have hit someone on the head because population growth in the Third Plan has been readjusted to rise to 10,500-persons by 2000, and 11,000-persons by 2005.[30] Still wrong, but improving.

The factors conspiring against, or to be considered in, planning socio-economic development in Kin were much as previous plans. Firstly, a finite amount of land as a result of the heavy base presence and the need for proper planning for returned areas. The plan asserts that Kin will continue pushing for return of Ginbaru, Blue Beach, and parts of Hansen while devising proper post-return land use plans.[31] Second, that Kin has to respond to the information super highway, internationalisation, and other global social changes by building infrastructure and developing human resources accordingly. The plan emphasises computer equipment and training, language (especially English) education and the success of Kin-subsidised home stay programmes to the US thus far. It also mentions the international exchange section established at the Kin-cho Yakuba to foster international and regional cooperation, promote international communication, and the study of the overseas emigration experience.[32] Third, the fact that in the 21st century the aged population of Kin will reach one person in four and that the rate of owning one’s own home in Kin (69.8%) was 12.8% higher than the prefectural average, means more residential land needs to be found and the living environment improved. In both cases infrastructural improvements are needed.[33]

Fourth, Kin had to better utilise its Pacific coastline and natural environment in its socio-economic development, and provide more jobs to absorb the local work force [See Fig. 17 Kin Town Employment by Industrial Sector, 1970-95]. In 1990, over 30% of Kin’s work force was employed outside the town.[34] In as much as farming was concerned there was little cause for celebration. Few products beyond flowers, rice, vegetables, and pork, had seen improvement since reversion, with staple items such as pineapple, sugarcane, and chicken farming, showing no improvement or dropping considerably.[35] Flower-growing was the top earner in Kin, accounting for a full quarter of all farming income. There was little the plan could suggest other than opening more farm land, improving infrastructure, and modernising management and technology. In terms of Kin’s fishing industry, the catch by tonnage was increasing annually, from 70-tonnes in 1975 to 285-tonnes in 1994, but not in terms of creating extra employment.[36] The plan suggested expanding the scale of the industry further again, improving port and harbour infrastructure, and attracting more tourism-oriented sport fishing.[37] In retailing, Shinkaichi had by now been dwarfed by the main food-general item outlets like Dai Kin Chibana (later Primart) which accounted for 58% (to Shinkaichi’s 7.6%) of all sales in 1994, and Kin High Street, worth 17.2% of sales.[38] The given solution was to physically modernise Kin’s shopping areas, improve retail management, and expand the range of local Kin products.[39] The Shimada Kondankai played a part in urban modernisation, allocating funding for 1,328 attractive new street lamps throughout the town, and redevelopment funding for Shinkaichi, including road improvement, increased car parking, a modernised sewerage system, and a koen ibento hiroba (public event park), all to be completed by 2004.[40] The tourism promotion section added little to that given in the Second Plan analysis. It talked broadly about developing the environs of Kin Kannonji, expanding tourist resources and facilities, conducting a survey into tourism and increasing overnight stay accommodations.[41] What the plan did not list in terms of creating jobs was the base role. Mayor Yoshida later clarified the situation. Of the 426 jobs available to (non-SOFA status) Okinawan people on Hansen, there were only 40-persons from Kin. It was imperative, he argued, that more of these base jobs go to Kin people since they were the ones who put up with the base presence every day.[42] Finally, the town needed to push ahead with the Three Projects.[43] Of these, the dam and bypass projects were later integrated with the Kondankai idea for a Kin-cho furusato tsukuri chiku (Kin spiritual home district), that integrated Blue Beach, Okukubi River, and Ginbaru development in combination with environmental preservation and tourism promotion consistent with the aims of the Third Plan.[44] To plan use of Blue Beach and Ginbaru after their return a Kin-cho Gunyochi Sekichi Riyo Sokushin Renraku Kyogikai (Liaison Council for the Reuse of Former Military Sites in Kin) was established.[45]

[1] The best possible background to this historic vote can be found in Okinawa Times, ed., Mini to ketsudan: kaijo heripooto mondai to Nago jumin tohyo. (Naha: Okinawa Times Sha, 1998).

[2] John Purves, Mark Selden, and Masamichi Inoue, ‘Okinawa Citizens, US Bases, and the Dugong.’ Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 4 (1997), 85.

[3] The current writer contacted the Okinawa-ken kenmin tohyo suishinshitsu just after the Nago vote was announced for a district breakdown to be told that, quite curiously, all the votes had simply been lumped in together.

[4] All data from the Okinawa Taimusu.

[5] The proponents of such writing are predominantly pseudo left-wingers who deliberately play down any of the kind of complexity or greyness outlined above when pontificating about US colonialism, misguided US foreign policy, continuing Japanese discrimination, etc. Almost anything written by Chalmers Johnson ostensibly about Okinawa since 1996 falls into this category.

[6] Kin-cho, Dainiji sogo keikaku koki kihon keikaku (Kin: Kin-cho, 1991).

[7] “Kosei yutakana katsuryoku aru chiiki shakai…” Ibid.

[8] The Yaka base areas have already been mentioned. Subsequently, two small pieces of Camp Hansen amounting to 348,000 metres squared were returned to allow a park area to be built near the Kin Board of Education building, and to allow construction of the Kin and Yaka interchanges along the Okinawa Expressway. Ibid., 5.

[9] Ibid. On the base land request, see the map between pages 5 and 6. For the tentative recreational areas see the map between pages 4 and 5.

[10] Ibid., 24-25. Tatsu awamori, a local Kin producer, began storing bottles in the limestone caves near Kannonji, but the awamori village idea has not yet developed.

[11] Ibid., 24.

[12] Ibid., 69-70.

[13] Kin-cho, Dainiji Kin-cho kokudo riyo keikaku (Kin: Kin-cho, 1991).

[14] Ibid., 25.

[15] Ibid., 25, and Dainiji sogo keikaku koki kihon keikaku, 1.

[16] The Third Plan was officially released in 1997, but actually ran from 1996-2005. Kin-cho, Daisanji Kin-cho sogo keikaku [kihon koso - zenki kihon keikaku]: kokoro utakana, akaruku sumiyoi, katsuryoku aru machi (Kin: Kin-cho, 1997).

[17] Base Return Action Programme [Proposal], 3.

[18] ‘Return of Blue Beach and Ginbaru Training Areas (Kin Town),’ http://www.pref.okinawa.jp/

[19] The SACO Final Report by Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Ikeda, Japanese Minister of State for Defence Kyuma, US Secretary of Defence Perry, and US Ambassador to Japan Mondale, 2nd December 1996. For more on the artillery relocation from Kin see Okawa 5 (29th September 1998).

[20] Ibid. The Blue Beach helipad relocation idea caused massive discontent in Kin. See Okawa 2 (1st January 1997), and Koho Kin 322 (1st August 1996). The current writer recalls hand hoisted signs on the approach to Blue Beach protesting any potential relocation, as well as the more common signs that protested the idea of any new base in northern Okinawa.

[21] Ibid. Interestingly, and in light of the current writer’s less-than-flattering assessment of SACO, the US General Accounting Office conducted a report on US forces in Okinawa, at one point commenting that “according to USFJ, the SACO Final Report is not a binding bilateral agreement,” just a set of recommendations. US General Accounting Office, Overseas Presence: Issues Involved in Reducing the Impact of the US Military Presence on Okinawa, Report to the Honourable Duncan Hunter, House of Representatives, GAO/NSIAD-98-66 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1998), 18.

[22] Shimada Haruo, ‘The Significance of the Okinawa Issue: The Experience of the Okinawa Problem Committee,’ in Ralph A. Cossa, edited., Restructuring the US-Japan Alliance: Toward a More Equal Partnership (Washington, DC: Centre for Strategic and International Studies Press, 1997), 84-85.

[23] Okinawa heiwa to jiritsu e no tatakai: shashin to goroku de miru Ota chiji no 2,990 nichi, 257.

[24] Details on the Kin machi tsukuri forum held on 19th February in Koho Kin 331 (1st April 1997), 3. See also an article on a thalassotherapy centre within the confines of the soon-to-be-returned Ginbaru facility, based on a study of a similar type of facility in Okayama Prefecture in Okawa 4 (1st February 1998). Okawa is published, and freely distributed, by the Kin-cho, Namisato District Assembly.

[25] Although there is much crossover with the Third Plan, often word for word, the special issue of the Jichi Shimpo from mid-1997, contains much broader discussion. Jichi Shimpo Tokushu, '21 seiki ni muke yakudosuru Kin-cho: kokoro yutakana, akaruku sumiyoi, katsuryoku aru machi o mezashite.' Gekkan Jichi Shimpo 156 (1997).

[26] Daisanji Kin-cho sogo keikaku [kihon koso - zenki kihon keikaku], 159. See also the Three Project special issue of Koho Kin 357 (31st March 1999).

[27] Ibid., 159, and Koho Kin 357.

[28] Ibid., 159, and Koho Kin 357. Okinawa Denryoku got control of the land area where this facility was built at the time of reversion. Whether there was strange wheeling and dealing going on is unclear, but Namisato-born Matsuoka Seiho was then Okinawa Denryoku chairman. 

[29] Gekkan Jichi Shimpo 156 (1997), 88-91.

[30] Daisanji Kin-cho sogo keikaku [kihon koso - zenki kihon keikaku], 45.

[31] Ibid., 21, and 49-50. The plan isolates Kokusai toshi and Churyu gunyochi sekichi riyo kihon keikaku as examples of how the OPG is looking at long-term ex-military land use.

[32] For education policies. Ibid., 77-93.

[33] See health and welfare policy, Ibid., 55-74, and urban planning-living environment policy, 95-103.

[34] Ibid., 21-23.

[35] Ibid., 126.

[36] Ibid., 136.

[37] Ibid., 137-138.

[38] Ibid., 140.

[39] Ibid., 141.

[40] Kin-cho, Kichi Taisakuka, Setsumei shiryo: Okinawa Kondankai teigen jigyo ni tsuite; Kin-cho imin 100 shunen kinen jigyo (an) ni tsuite; kongo no kichi mondai ni tsuite (Kin: Kichi Taisakuka, April 1998), 1-9.

[41] Daisanji Kin-cho sogo keikaku [kihon koso - zenki kihon keikaku], 145.

[42] Gekkan Jichi Shimpo 156 (1997), 74. Yoshida has pursued this issue since 1997. See, for example, Letter from Mayor of Kin-cho Yoshida Katsuhiro to Richard Monreal, Camp Commander Camp Hansen. Subject: Request for Military Employment Opportunities, 30th November 1998 [Photocopy]

[43] Daisanji Kin-cho sogo keikaku [kihon koso - zenki kihon keikaku], 21-23.

[44] Setsumei shiryo: Okinawa Kondankai teigen jigyo ni tsuite; Kin-cho imin 100 shunen kinen jigyo (an) ni tsuite; kongo no kichi mondai ni tsuite, 4-5.

[45] A four-person body consisting of one person from the Naha Boei Shisetsu Kyoku, Okinawa-ken, the Sogo Jimukyoku, and the Kin Government. Koho Kin 343 (24th March 1998), 2.


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