Ongoing occupation of the whole land and air space of Japan and infringement of human rights of Japanese people
Y: Next, this is a picture of the marine base Camp Foster.
Camp Foster, in the Futenma base
Y: On the upper left is the Futenma base, and on the upper right is the coastline where U.S. Forces landed in 1945. In the center are U.S. Forces’ residences. In Camp Foster, where headquarters are located, there are a few residential areas.
T: For officers, right?
Y: Yes. They’ve occupied such wonderful locations for 70 years.
T: Have you heard about this? I was informed of it when I first went to Okinawa, and I was appalled. These officers live with their families, and they go back to the U.S. for a month-long summer vacation. During that time they leave the air conditioning on, saying otherwise it will be hot when they come back. They also leave their lawn sprinklers on, in Okinawa, where both electricity and water are scarce! You could clearly see it across the fence. Shocking!
H: The sprinklers must be for the grass, but they should at least turn off the air conditioning. Unbelievable.
Y: And this is the track chart of helicopter training at the Futenma base. See.
Flight path for U.S. military helicopters belonging to the Futenma base
Y: The area in the top center where no one is flying is Camp Foster, which we just saw. They keep clear of U.S. residences.On the other hand, at the lower left are native residential areas and shopping districts like the picture we saw earlier, and Okinawa International University, where a U.S. aircraft crashed in 2004. They fly ridiculously low there.
Why? According to Mr. Iha, it’s because they can’t fly over American dwellings due to strict environmental laws that apply to their citizens. Because they’re just following the law, they don’t feel guilty.
But when you compare the situations it’s grotesque. They can fly as low as they want over Japanese homes, but avoid American homes. Some people’s rights are legally protected while others’ aren’t.
It’s like what we saw earlier, Mr. Okada wearing radiation protection clothing.
Y: Mr. Okada supposedly said they were just following the rules. But from an objective viewpoint, it’s clear that different rules are being applied. In Japan, some people’s rights are protected while others’ aren’t.
T: Let me repeat. The picture we saw earlier is of Mr. Okada, Secretary General of the party in power then. Such officials claimed it was safe, yet he was the only one wearing a protective suit. All the locals were dressed normally, not even wearing masks.
Y: So we’ve discussed why different laws are applied. Next, let’s look at this.
Y: This shows radar approach control (RAPCON), the airspace controlled by U.S. Forces. As you can see, the area above Okinawa is entirely under U.S. jurisdiction. It was formally returned to Japan in 2010, but the control by the U.S. hasn’t changed.
H: How high [does the jurisdiction extend]?
Y: 6,000 meters (3.7 miles) in height and 90 kilometers (56 miles) in radius. Basically, the whole area above Okinawa is under U.S. control.
T: When you fly to Okinawa, your plane will start skimming the ocean surface very early on. At first I thought it was to show us the beautiful sea, but they’re actually required to fly at the lowest altitude.
Y: The routes of Japanese planes touching down at Naha Airport and U.S. aircraft landing at the Kadena Air Base cross. The U.S. get the higher, safer route, so Japanese planes are forced to fly dangerously low.
H: Same at the Yokota RAPCON in Tokyo, too.
H: This goes for the whole country, not just Okinawa.
Y: Here is the answer to the mystery of why Japanese homes can be flown over at such a low altitude:
Y: It is a policy called the Exclusion Clause. See.
H: “Special Act On Civil Aeronautics Related to the Japan-U.S. Status Of Forces Agreement and the UN-Japan Military Status of Forces Agreement, Clause 3. The aircraft mentioned in the last clause, U.S. and UN aircraft, and their crew members who operate them, shall be exempted from the rules in the Civil Aeronautics Act Chapter 6, except for those designated by governmental ordinance.”
Y: The laws for exemption here, Chapter 6 of the Civil Aeronautics Act, include those related to aircraft operation. Safety laws which stipulate minimum altitude, speed limit, and no-fly zones, don’t apply to them.
H: So they’re not applicable to U.S. and UN aircraft.
Y: “Exclusion Clause” is a terrifying key-phrase here. (Those with the right to set exclusion clauses become an entity above the law.)
H: It sounds complicated, but it’s absolutely crucial.
Y: The reason for these exclusion clauses has to do with the hierarchy of international law.
Y: Signing the San Francisco Peace Treaty marked the end of the occupation. The Security Treaty was written based on that, and the Status of Forces Agreement was, in turn, based on the Security Treaty. Now, domestic laws are subsidiary to treaties, so they legislate special acts or revise existing ones accordingly. And exclusion clauses are an example of this. U.S. aircraft were granted freedom in the superior treaties, so exclusion clauses had to be legislated to match them.
H: It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Basically, the Japanese have to abide by the law, but entities called treaties override the law.
Y: Treaties take precedence over normal laws.
H: Please remember this. Later you’ll see that it’s even more complicated.
Y: As we discussed, with RAPCON airspace and exclusion clauses, the sky above Okinawa is completely under the control of U.S. Forces. But it turns out that the ground is also virtually under their control. See.
H: Is this the Japan-US Administrative Agreement?
Y: No, it’s part of a conference record on the Administrative Agreement. It was agreed to by the US-Japan Joint Committee, and what it decides overrides Japan’s Constitution.
“The Japanese authorities will normally not exercise the right of search, seizure, or inspection with respect to any persons or property within facilities and areas in use by and guarded under the authority of the U.S. armed forces or with respect to property of the U.S. armed forces wherever situated.”
It may be hard to grasp the full extent of such legal statements, but it is utterly outrageous. If it’s about U.S. armed forces property in U.S. military facilities, it’s understandable since bases are extraterritorial. The same for embassies. But it applies “wherever situated ,” which is appalling.
T: For example, a crashed U.S. helicopter is American property. So regardless of where it crashes, Japanese police cannot search for it, seize it, or inspect it.
Y: We can’t lay a finger on it. That became evident in an infamous U.S. aircraft crash on the grounds of Okinawa International University. See.
U.S. aircraft crash accident in Okinawa International University
H: The accident that Mr. Takano described.
Y: It happened in 2004. U.S. Forces first roped off the area and kicked out the residents, saying “Out! Get out!” Then the Japanese police, with U.S. permission, were allowed into the campus. But they didn’t let in even university officials, the mayor, or Foreign Ministry authorities. This attracted a lot of criticism.
This is where the helicopter crashed. See.
U.S. aircraft crash accident scene in Okinawa International University
T: It’s “scraped.”