We oppose the establishment of Naval Base in Jeju
- 2007.04.19 (00:00:00)
Military authorities should not destruct the vision for Peace Island, Jeju.
Last week, Kim, Tae-Hwan, Jeju governor, announced the roadmap for the establishment of a naval base and Kim, Gang-Soo, Secretary of Defense followed by insisting on his stance for the plan. In related to these actions, the struggle arose between Jeju local government and its citizens. This struggle resulted from that the military authorities and Jeju local government ignored the civil opposition by justifying its plan for the reasons of addressing future security threats and promoting local economy.
As we published the statement of “Korea’s Peace Activists in Opposition to the Establishment of Naval Base in Jeju”, we have strongly hoped that Jeju would be reborn as a peace-island that could sublimate the remembrance of past violence and pains into the engine for the peace on the Korean peninsula. We express our firm opposition to the military authorities’ insistent plan for the establishment of the Naval Base.
First of all, we criticize it as ridiculing Jeju citizens, the combined acts made by Jeju governor and the Secretary of Defense. The former announced that he would determine whether to build the base according to survey after the Government publishes its official position. Immediately, the Secretary of Defense, on his visit to Jeju, also announced the plan for the construction of the base.
According to the roadmap announced by Kim, Tae-Hwan governor, the candidate area for the base will be selected, irrespective of whether the citizens in each area fully support the construction or not, when it receives comparatively higher agreements from citizens in some area. This survey will be designed to examine the 5% of people from each area as a sample.
This cannot be the right way or procedure to pursue the citizens’ opinions. This is also inconsistent with the previous position that the Jeju local government and the military authorities would establish the Naval Base on the basis of the citizens’ agreements. Furthermore, the Jeju citizens have not received full information about the effects on their life that the establishment could bring. According to a survey conducted immediately after the Jeju citizens’ discussion was held last January, it showed that the 71.5% of the Jeju citizens admitted that the information about the construction of the base did not reach them well.
In view of these circumstances, the policy approach to give no attention to the citizens’ opinions for the reason that the construction of the base is a national project is almost the same as the attitude of absurdly coercing the citizens to accept the government plan because the national interests are always placed prior to the citizens’ interests.
It is also problematic that the military authorities exaggerate the necessity of constructing the base in Jeju as an imminent issue in order to curb serious threat from sea powers. There is a paradox in the argument that considers the neighboring countries’ military force as a security threat, while it does not view the military force for the peace in Jeju as a threat to them.
This is the conventional security theory that does not take into account the security dilemma. However, as the military build-up among the neighboring countries can impose security threat upon us, the construction of the base could do the same upon the neighboring countries. This ultimately may mean that the Jeju island can occupy the central place surrounded by military tension and competition for military spending. The military authorities should not be negligent by maintaining that the naval base with great potential impact on the citizens’ life can guarantee the sincere peace on Jeju island.
The military authorities, while always exaggerating the military logic, have consistently despised cogent concerns and skepticism related to the construction of the base. There has been concern that the construction is just the beginning of the militarization of the Jeju island and will be followed by the construction of air-force base, a supply base for a shot locker and an armory, and even further military facilities designed to make up for the possible military weakness that could stem from the remoteness from the Korean peninsula.
The Naval authority has contended last December that the overall size of the air-force search-rescue operation unit was still under discussion, yet determined. However, the recent announcement of its position on the plan for the air-force search-rescue operation unit brought additional concern. It was pointed out that the idea of air-force search-rescue operation unit was what was partially modified from the construction of air-force strategic base, which was then controversially integrated into the military mid-term plan. Moreover, the unit is also pointed out to be paving the way for the plan that the air-force strategic base is built in Jeju in the future.
As acknowledged by the military authorities, the naval base could harbor the U.S. naval fleet in military operation. The problem is that the U.S. naval fleet may not be limited to other than nuclear-powered submarines and strategy submarines. It could breed the possibility that South Korea and the U.S. joint military operation could conduct around the base. The naval base does not belong to the U.S. authority, but it would be difficult for the South Korea’s government to reject U.S. demand for use. This was clearly noticed in the negotiation over the rearrangement of the U.S. military force situated in Korea. In addition, the Strategic Flexibility of the U.S. military force situated in Korea strengthens the possibility.
Furthermore, it is untenable argument that the construction of the naval base could promote local economy. This might bring temporary economic profits into this region, but it is not sure that these profits could outweigh the setbacks that the relevant citizens should suffer. From the long-term perspective, there have been evidences in other cases, vindicating that the construction functions as a serious obstacle to the region’s economic development.
Even so, the military authorities and Jeju local government deliberately evade these concerns and criticisms by regarding them as objections for objections. Moreover, they have failed to properly respond to the Jeju citizens’ voices and forcibly arrest them for their opposition. All these acts are blameworthy.
To emphasize, the military authorities and Jeju local government should not coerce Jeju citizens in order to implement their construction plan. Particularly, the democratic process of gathering sufficient civil opinions should precede given the violent struggles among the citizens over the construction of the base. It is also seriously problematic that the decision to construct the base and its implementation are based on the survey that reflected partial opinions of the Jeju citizens. Without the Jeju citizens’ consensus, this is the wrong way leading to the destruction of their right to survival and the vision for Peace Island, Jeju.
2007. 4. 19