[Editorial] Heads of all municipalities in Okinawa demand that the commemoration of the anniversary of the restoration of Japanese sovereignty be stopped

March 30, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to protest against the Japanese government’s plan to hold a ceremony on April 28 to commemorate the anniversary of the restoration of Japanese sovereignty after the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect in 1952. The municipal assemblies notably passed resolutions to protest against the holding of the ceremony.

When responding to a Ryukyu Shimpo questionnaire on the “Sovereignty restoration day,” about 80 percent of the 41 heads of the municipalities in Okinawa opposed the idea, with no one supporting it.

The people of Okinawa have employed democratic processes, and demand that the central government change its plan to hold the ceremony. The central government should pay particular attention to this fact. On that day in 1952, in exchange for the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty, Okinawa was separated from Japan and placed under U.S. occupation. All of the heads of the municipalities therefore see April 28, the date that the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect in 1952, as a day of humiliation. It is therefore totally reasonable that none of the heads of the municipalities support a ceremony that celebrates this “Sovereignty restoration day.”

We would like to ask Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if he still intends to hold this ceremony despite knowing the results of this questionnaire.

If the central government goes ahead with it, in effect it is publicly admitting that it blatantly discriminates against Okinawa. The central government should place priority on verifying just what Japanese sovereignty actually represents before holding the ceremony.

If Japan is indeed a true democratic country, and is prepared to listen to Okinawa’s voice, the government should cancel this event. Abe claims that holding the ceremony will serve to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Japan’s return to the international community, but we wonder if Japan is confident that its sovereignty has really been restored despite its ongoing diplomatic subservience to the United States, let alone the inequalities of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. Japanese government internal communication calls for Diet lawmakers to attend the ceremony, referring to, “the complete restoration of our nations’ sovereignty.” It does not mention the fact that on that day Okinawa was separated from Japan along with the Amami Islands in Kagoshima Prefecture and the Ogasawara Islands and placed under U.S. occupation, and that Japan’s sovereignty is still anything but complete. This is extremely difficult to fathom.

Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Minister Yoshihide Suga have repeatedly asserted that Japan should not forget Okinawa’s history of suffering. We would like to ask what these statements actually mean. When all is said and done, have they lied about respecting Okinawa? We would like those in the central government to imagine how the Okinawan people are disappointed and angry at the Japanese government’s irresponsible attitude, that is once again demonstrated here.

In the Ryukyu Shimpo questionnaire, more than 60 percent of the heads of the municipalities in Okinawa said that Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima should not attend the ceremony. It is safe to say that many heads agreed with Nakaima, who from the very start has criticized the central government’s plan to hold the ceremony by saying it is entirely incomprehensible. As an act of protest, Nakaima should firmly announce his intention not to appear in the ceremony.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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