Japanese government denies discriminating against the Okinawan people on the Futenma issue

March 15, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva has decided to send a letter to the Japanese government requesting an explanation of the situation regarding the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago, but the Japanese government denies any discrimination against Okinawan people and asserts that the current plan is the best option.

A representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed this at the Liberal Democratic Party’s Foreign Affairs Division meeting held on March 14.

The head of the division, Itsunori Onodera, pointed out that, “If CERD deems that the Japanese government has been discriminatory towards the Okinawan people with regard to the Futenma issue, I suspect that that could have a considerable impact on the current relocation plan.”

The representative of the ministry said, “Although we cannot say that CERD’s judgment will have an impact on the current plan, we would like to explain to them that the Japanese and U.S. governments have been sincere in their efforts to implement the plan. We would really like to avoid a situation in which CERD makes a recommendation to us.”

In the letter, CERD stated, “Although the Ryukyuan people and other Japanese living in Okinawa consider that the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko could have a hugely negative impact on the regional environment and living conditions, and have strongly resisted its implementation and have criticized the Japanese and the U.S. governments, both the governments still adhere to the plan. We are concerned about this situation.” With regard to the planned new helipad construction at Takae in Higashi Village, CERD stated, “Residents and the local assembly members have continued to oppose the construction. We are concerned about this.”

The Japanese government is asked to reply to the letter by the end of July. CERD is scheduled to meet in August to monitor the Japanese government’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Depending on how the situation develops, CERD will consider making a recommendation to the Japanese government. This recommendation would not be legally binding.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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