Okinawa defense official’s injudicious remark regarding the submission of the Henoko environmental impact report

Okinawa defense official's injudicious remark regarding the submission of the Henoko environmental impact report

Satoshi Tanaka, chief of the Okinawa Defense Bureau


November 29, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

When asked why Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa has not gone any further than saying, “The government is preparing to submit the environmental impact report to the prefecture before the end of the year,” and why Ichikawa avoids giving a clear schedule for the submission of the report on the environmental impact of the planned relocation of the facilities at Futenma to Henoko in Nago, Satoshi Tanaka, the chief of the Okinawa Defense Bureau said, “Would you say, ‘I am going to commit an act against you,’ before you commit an act against someone?”
He allegedly used a term that is often interpreted as implying an act of sexual violence against women.
Tanaka also stated his opinion that while the government plans to submit the report before the end of the year, it will give consideration to the feelings of the Okinawan people.
In the context of Okinawa Prefecture’s strong demands for the relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of the prefecture, and the fact that the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly has unanimously decided to ask the central government not to submit the evaluation report on the environmental impact of the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, this indiscreet comment by Tanaka, suggesting a contempt for human rights and disdain for the Okinawan people and for women, could attract a backlash.

Tanaka attended a gathering for the media hosted by the Okinawa Defense Bureau at a tavern in Naha. Staff from about 10 news companies from both within and outside the prefecture participated.

In response to a question about why Ichikawa has not given a clear statement with regards to the schedule for the submission, Tanaka said, “Would you say, ‘I am going to commit an act against you,’ before you commit an act against someone?”

When contacted by the Ryukyu Shimpo after the gathering at the tavern, a spokesperson of the Okinawa Defense Bureau said, “We are not in a position to confirm or deny that the comment was made.”

With regards to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, remarks indicating disdain for women have caused controversy in the past.

At a press conference in November 1995, after three U.S. military personnel had kidnapped a 12 year-old Okinawan girl, beaten and raped her on September 4 that same year, U.S. Navy Admiral Richard C. Macke, the commander of the United States Pacific Command at the time of the rape, said: “I think it was absolutely stupid. I have said several times: for the price they paid to rent the car [used in the crime], they could have had a girl [prostitute].” Macke ended up being dismissed from his post and forced into early retirement.

Tanaka was born in 1961. He graduated from Osaka University where he studied in the Faculty of Law and went on to become a member of the staff of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency in 1984. He took up the post of chief of the Okinawa Defense Bureau after serving as head of the Facility Planning Section of the Facilities Department of the Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, the head of the Publicity Unit of the Minister’s Secretariat and the head of the Planning Section of the Bureau of Local Cooperation.

Although Tanaka made this remark in an unofficial meeting with reporters, the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper decided that it was in the public interest to report it.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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