When I first moved to Okinawa I was a young man of 18 and did not really understand the place that I had been sent. I saw hundreds of dump trucks everyday back then that were busy hauling earth from the north to locations all around the island. I later figured it out that they were filling in the reefs to create additional land for urban development. Military bases had plenty of spaces on them with wide open fields and space everywhere, which was in contrast to the close quartered conditions the civilian community lived in. I remember they were taking down a mountain on the motobu peninsula to get the materials to fill in the ocean. It was unbelievable the amount of land that was created by this process. Beautiful ocean that is now lost forever. Now they want to relocate the marine base by filling in the ocean. I would just like to express that I believe this is the wrong thing to do. The earth is a precious resource and shouldn't be frivolously destroyed to create space for concrete. Marine operations on Okinawa should be scaled back and relocated in multiple other locations around the pacific. I'm not saying that all military presence should be taken from Okinawa because the military does have a positive effect on the economy of Okinawa. I believe that they should condense the bases more though to allow more land to be given back to the Okinawan people. Kadena could possibly be one choice for part of the marine air wing, a choice that would not harm the marine environment any more than it already has been. Okinawans are not second class citizens they are the rightful owners of the Ryukyu Islands and should be given the respect they deserve.
Here is some information I obtained via the internet for those of you who may not know about the base relocation on Okinawa. It is followed by a film about the relocation. More info may be obtained by visiting the web site http://closethebase.org/ .
In December 1996, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided that the Futenma base should be relocated to an off-shore location in Henoko Bay in Nago, northern Okinawa. This was and remains a controversial decision, since the projected site involved construction on a coral reef and seagrass beds which are the habitat of the dugong, an endangered marine mammal protected under Japanese and U.S. law. In a referendum conducted later the same year, a vast majority (over 80%) of Nago residents voted against the Henoko plan. However, shortly afterward, they elected a mayor who campaigned on a platform of accepting the new facility. In March, 2006, a new mayor was elected on a similar platform, getting more votes than his two anti-relocation opponents combined. But opinion still remained divided between those who view the 'relocation' plan as a recipe for development in the northern part of the island, and others who consider it more likely to lead to the destruction of what remains of Okinawa's sub-tropical forests and undegraded coastal reefs.
On 26 October 2005, the governments of the United States and Japan agreed to move the relocation site for Futenma from the reef area off Henoko to the interior and coastal portions of the existing Marine infantry base at Camp Schwab, just a few hundred meters away from the offshore facility. The cited reason for the change is to reduce the engineering challenge associated with building a runway on reefs in deep water: experts estimate that rather than the 15-plus years required to construct a new airbase at the previous reef location, the new Camp Schwab plan will enable Futenma to be relocated within 6–8 years. These plans were also accelerated when a CH-53D Sea Stallion transport helicopter attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit lost tail rotor authority and spiraled into a local college building.
Reaction to the new plan for Futenma's relocation has been widespread in Okinawa. The local media, who are mainly opposed to relocations of military bases, claim the relocation is an unreasonable increase in burden of hosting bases. However, the newly-elected mayor of Nago (which hosts Camp Schwab) formally agreed to accept the relocation when he signed an agreement with Defense Minister Nukaga on 8 April 2006. Mayor Shimabukuro was later joined by all five of the major mayors of northern Okinawa. Although some all-Okinawa public opinion polls indicate that many Okinawans have reservations about the latest plan, residents of northern Okinawa have recently elected and re-elected leaders who have publicly accepted it. In fact, all 12 mayors of northern Okinawa have publicly accepted the new relocation plan. In this respect, the Futenma issue exposes a range of conflicting opinions among Okinawans: from those who maintain that military facilities and associated public works infrastructure benefit the island's economy; environmentalists, and those who either object or are critical to the U.S. military presence on ideological grounds or on rooted sentiments. Inamine Susumu (稲嶺進) the new mayor of Nago city as of January 24, 2010 is currently skeptical about the relocation plan and agrees to move Futenma outside of Okinawa.