themselves about U.S. military bases in the prefecture.
Okinawa is in virtual rebellion against the central government over
relocate the Futenma U.S. Marine Air Base to nearby Henoka. Recent polls
show that over 90% of Okinawans, and nearly
100% of its elected officials,
want the American bases completely out.
Okinawans Will No Longer be 'Pawned Away' to Curry
American Favor (Ryukyu ShimpoShimbun,
"Like a souvenir, you [Prime Minister Abe] would like to bring signs of progress on the Futenma Air Base relocation to the president of the United States. Could this be the reason for your visit to Okinawa? If so, you are not welcomed here. Okinawa has decided not to resign itself to being treated as an item to be 'pawned,' to the U.S. to curry favor with it. ... Isn't it fair to say that Okinawa is treated like a 'political desert island,' tantamount to being politically nonexistent, and will in no way have its will acknowledged and reflected in your administration?"
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: The most right-wing Japanese leader in years, and who is in the midst of a territorial confrontation with China, wants the U.S. on his side. But the people of Okinawa appear unwilling to be the instrument of his effort to satify Washington.
Mr. Shinzo Abe, your visit to the
prefecture [Okinawa] is the first since your return to the office of the prime
minister, and people here are watching cold-eyed and with a measure of
the U.S. later this month, you want to apply to the governor's office for permits
to reclaim land in public waters, which is required for relocating the U.S.
military's Futenma Air Station to Henoko. And like a souvenir,
you would like to bring signs of progress on the relocation plan for the
prefecture to the president of the United States. Could this be the reason for
If so, you are not welcomed here. Okinawa has decided not to
resign itself to being treated as an item to be "pawned," to the United
States to curry favor with it.
Note: Okinawa Governor HirokazuNakaima
has already made it clear, that relocating the base to Henoko,
which requires landfill, would be impossible due to local opposition. He has
called for the base to be relocated outside of Okinawa prefecture, where over
75 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan are located.]
Relocation from Iwakuni in 1976
At the National Diet yesterday, you said you will "listen
carefully to the voice ofOkinawa." How many times have we have heard such
words from the mouths of prime ministers? And while uttering them, isn't it the
case that you hope only to hear what you want to hear?: "Relocation within
the prefecture is acceptable."
We ask you to please "hear" us correctly. If you
do, you'll acknowledge that for Okinawa there is no going back, and that the
people of the prefecture have an indomitable will to reject this relocation.
The executive committee of the Okinawa prefecture has
submitted a kenpakusho [formal petition] calling for scrapping
the deployment of the MV22 Osprey - a vertical take-off and landing aircraft -
and for not only abandoning Futenma's relocation within the prefecture, but its
outright closure. The kenpakusho is a clear
expression of the Okinawa people’s will, and is a symbol of our historic sacrifices.
The kenpakusho is signed and stamped
by the prefectural assembly speaker, the heads of every municipality and chairpeople of all municipal assemblies, and the presidents of other Okinawa groups
and organizations. You should recognize the weight and significance of
Amid opposition by the Okinawa people, the deployment of the
Osprey was forcibly undertaken, and countenanced by the administration of the
Democratic Party in Tokyo. Do you plan to repeat this?
In a poll last year, ninety percent of prefecture residents were
against the Henoko relocation. Every member elected last
year to the four single-seat constituencies in the prefecture is opposed to it.
But in spite of this, shortly after the election, you said you wanted to, "work
toward relocating the base to Henoko, Nago City."
Isn't it fair to say that Okinawa is treated like a "political
desert island," tantamount to being politically nonexistent, and will in no way have its will acknowledged and reflected in your administration?
Did you know that the Marine air wing stationed at the Futenma
Air Station was relocated in 1976 from Iwakuni city, Yamaguchi
prefecture - your hometown? And that this wasn't even
conducted under U.S. military fiat?
Last year, the U.S. sounded out Tokyo about a partial
relocation of the Marine Corps. base from Okinawa to Iwakuni,
but Japan's government rejected this immediately. Why is it possible to so readily
conduct relocations from the mainland to Okinawa, while the reverse is immediately
refused? Isn't this an obvious case of discrimination? If you want to claim
this isn't discrimination, prove it. Unless you execute the reverse [moving
U.S. military facilities from Okinawa to Japan's mainland], you cannot.
In government, media, and bureaucracy across the country, people
talk about of Okinawa's resistance as a bid to win measures to promoting its
Isao Iijima, a special advisor to
the cabinet and member of your staff, had very close ties to Takemasa Moriya, who was parliamentary private secretary to
former Prime Minister Koizumi and a vice minister of defense, who drafted the
current plan for the Henokorelocatation.
Mr. Moriya repeatedly states in his books that Okinawa has an agenda, and that the
aim to its resistance is to gain funding. If you are paying attention, you
should also know that such a conclusion is unjustifiable and wrong.
There are no examples in which the government has another
prefecture to allow the relocation of a an American base in return for the
construction of a bullet train route. If such a thing is good enough for
Okinawa but not others, isn't it nothing but discrimination?
In recent years, it seems it have become almost acceptable
to say publicly, "politically steamrolling Okinawa is the only way to go."
Doesn’t democracy apply to Okinawa? Should the will of the people of Okinawa be
trampled on? Is this the nature of the Japan you say should be "restored"?
You said in your policy speech at the opening of the Diet that
you will "restore the bonds between Japan and the United States."
These are "bonds" maintained at the expense of Okinawa and are
nothing but a house of cards. If you really want to show the value of Japan-U.S.
relations, you should break Okinawa's chain of sacrifice. The issue of bases must
be dealt with appropriately, and you should pursue a new and more sustainable
form of Japan-U.S. ties.