Relocation of Futenma facilities within Okinawa impossible

March 24, 2011. Ryukyu Shimpo

The Upper House Budget Committee, headed by Takeshi Maeda, held a public hearing on “Foreign and Security Policy” on March 23. During the hearing, Ukeru Magosaki, former Director General of the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to Iran, suggested that the Futenma relocation plan should be reviewed, stating that the people of Okinawa people will never accept a relocation within their prefecture. Magosaki also said that claiming that something impossible can be achieved could have far-reaching negative consequences for Japan-US relations, and pointed out that the ructions surrounding Futenma would not fundamentally alter the nature of military cooperation between Japan and the United States.

In addition to Magosaki, Takushoku University professor Satoshi Morimoto, an expert in national security and international policy issues, and Keiko Sakai, a professor at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, who specializes in modern Middle Eastern politics and Iraqi politics, attended the hearing. They both commented on Japan’s crisis-management systems in the context of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the situation in Libya and Egypt.

With regard to the Japanese government’s handling of the issue of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, Magosaki stated that Japan should seek to resolve the issue through diplomatic rather than military means, such as using the Japanese Coast Guard and Self-Defense Forces. Citing the existence of the Japan-China Fisheries Pact and the fact that both governments agreed to shelve territorial issues for the moment, Magosaki said that when Chinese fishing vessels swarmed around the islands back in 1978, the Chinese government stepped in to make them withdraw.

Morimoto, on the other hand, claimed that because China will undoubtedly attempt to take control of the South China Sea, Japan should look to strengthen its grip on the Senkaku islands. He stated that diplomacy is the preferred approach, but suggested that national security was all about having a contingency plan to use when diplomacy fails.

Magosaki explained that while Japan will see a growing military threat from China, it will also see two separate groups within Chinese government; one that tries to settle issues by military means, and the other that tries to exercise control on world affairs by implementing close and peaceful relations with foreign countries. He sees the latter group as being the more dominant of the two. On this basis, he stated that, “Japan should strive to work with the group in China that is looking to contribute to world stability and to develop its own economy.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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