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Oliver Stone amplifies Okinawans’ opposition to new US military base, calls Japan’s leaders ‘gutless’

But while the support of the Oscar-winning director may lead to headlines and raise awareness about the resistance of the Okinawan people toward the US military’s presence, analysts expect that opposition to the new base will ultimately have little effect given the overriding security interests of Tokyo and Washington.

Around 30,000 US military personnel are stationed in Okinawa, which accounts for around 1 per cent of Japan’s land mass but holds about 70 per cent of all US troops in the country.

Stone gave his criticism in an interview published in the Asahi newspaper on May 7, discussing his decision to sign a petition in January opposing the construction of a new US military base in the waters off Henoko, in the northeast of Okinawa.

“I saw that people were upset about the environmental damage that was being done, but they didn’t seem to have any power to stop it.

“I even get the impression that Japan remains a satellite country that dutifully does the US’ bidding,” he added.

Stone cited a survey showing as many as 70 per cent of Okinawans were opposed to the Henoko base but said they and the local government had been overruled by Tokyo, which was a “slap in the face of the democratic movement”.

“Your Japanese leaders are gutless,” he added. “They’ve always been gutless. They haven’t fought for real sovereignty, for that matter.”

Hiromi Murakami, a political-science professor at the Tokyo campus of Temple University, told This Week in Asia, “The debate over US forces on Okinawa has gone on since the end of the war and yes, having a famous director sign the petition and then speak about the issue is going to attract attention, but it is not going to change anything.”


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