Delegation from mass rally asks government to cancel deployment

Delegation from mass rally asks government to cancel deployment

At around 11:00am on September 13, at the office of the Ministry of Defense, Yoshimi Teruya co-leader of the delegation of the Okinawa People's mass rally (third from left) handed a resolution to Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto (second from left) requesting the cancelation of the Osprey deployment.

September 14, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 13, a delegation from the Okinawan People’s Mass Rally held in Ginowan on September 9 demanded that the government cancel the deployment of the Osprey aircraft. The 44-member delegation met Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura. They handed the ministers a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the MV-22 aircraft and the closure of Futenma Air Station. In response, the ministers repeated that once the safety of the aircraft is confirmed the government will seek to secure the understanding of residents regarding the aircraft’s deployment.

At the press conference held after meeting with government officials at the House of Councilors, the members of the delegation voiced their anger and criticized the government for not considering the feelings of the people of Okinawa.

Yoshimi Teruya, the chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Union of Chamber of Commerce and co-leader of the executive committee, complained to the Defense Minister, saying, “If the two governments force the deployment through it will add to people’s anger, and this would not stop at opposition to the deployment.” Morimoto promised the governor of Okinawa and the mayor of Ginowan that he will strive to avoid the Futenma Air Station becoming a permanent fixture.

Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha and co-leader of the executive committee, asked Foreign Minister Genba to cancel the deployment, saying, “If there is an accident involving this aircraft, the people of Okinawa will lean towards demanding the closure of all bases.” Genba answered that the government will explain the deployment to the residents after the government creates a situation in which it can confidently say that it is all right.

At his meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura at the official residence of the Prime Minister, Masaharu Kina, the chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and co-leader of the committee, said, “The government cannot convince us however much they might insist that the aircraft is safe. We told him that we will oppose the deployment.” According to Kina, Fujimura has repeatedly said that the government is sincere in its desire to will seek residents’ understanding, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary stated his intention to tell Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Fujimura declined to answer the question from the chairman: “Will you force the deployment through.”

Without mentioning the schedule of the deployment of the Osprey, the three government ministers explained that they want to secure agreement on measures to ensure the safety of operations for the aircraft at the Joint Committee, and asked the delegation members to understand government policy.

The delegation also handed the resolution from the mass rally to Tatsuo Kawabata, Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Shinji Tarutoko, DPJ Acting Secretary-General, and the U.S. Embassy in Japan, and stated their opposition to the deployment of the Osprey.

At the press conference, Naha mayor Onaga criticized the government’s stance, saying, “The central government and other people do not take into account the feelings of the Okinawan people.” He added, “We will show our determination by repeatedly telling the government to think of the Okinawan people’s stance.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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