[Editorial] Abe administration signals future reign of terror in Henoko

August 18, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government is controlling the residents by force in Henoko, Nago. As far as we know, the government has never unleashed such reckless disregard of the will of the people, as we have seen at Henoko. The Ministry of Defense installed salvage barges in the sea of Henoko for undersea drilling for building an air base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The government has clamped down on the resistance in the past. However, 74 percent of Okinawan people oppose the Henoko relocation. We wonder if there has ever been a case like this, where the government has trampled on the will of the overwhelming majority of people in the prefecture elsewhere in Japan. This action by the government evokes memories of the crackdown against peasants during the Edo period. The same repression also took place in Japan’s annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Battle of Okinawa. Japan’s annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom is called “Ryukyu Shobun” or disposal of the Ryukyu Kingdom, in 1879. In 1944 during the Battle of Okinawa, the Japanese military in Okinawa issued a decree that “the military, the bureaucracy and the people will all live as one, and die as one.” Okinawan people were forced to commit mass suicide. This history is a form of structural discrimination against Okinawan people, if such incidents have never taken place elsewhere in Japan. This is a barbaric action by the government, and so shameful if the international community just stands by.

Government ignores provisions of the Constitution
In Henoko, the government has responded with an attitude that they will allow physical force, even injury on residents who are against the government. They have shown their hostility and malice towards the residents. We have felt empty and completely discouraged. Particularly, the Japan Coast Guard showed its hard-line stance,. They asserted, “to ensure safety.” It is a quite ridiculous pretence. On August 15, crew-members of the coast guard removed a protester forcibly. At that time, his broken glasses cut his face. This is ironic because they caused injury to a resident despite saying they were removing him for his safety.

For the first time in the 18-year saga of the Henoko relocation plan, the government has unilaterally set up an always-off-limits water area in Oura Bay without any legal basis. This is a method employed by the government to deprive the residents of the right to access the sea. It is the same as that used by rulers during the Edo period. The coast guard has detained citizens outside of the off-limits area without showing legal basis. They gave a warning to residents who were sailing from a fishing port to protest against the work. They threatened, speaking in loud voices, the residents who were approaching the off-limits area. The Constitution provides that “no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.” The coast guard has also violated Article 35 of the Constitution that provides for the principle of warrant. Thus, Japan is not a law-abiding country.

These acts are questionable on a legal basis. Who are outlaws of the sea, the residents or the coast guard? We suppose the Japan Coast Guard had better change its name to the “Security Service for construction of US military base” in the future. We know the efforts made by the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters to win credibility from the residents after Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972. They are now appear to be trashing the credibility of the organization in Henoko, in just a few days. We would like the coast guard to know the reality of Okinawa. Even so, there is an irony about the saga on the sea of Henoko. The Ministry of Defense, Japan, safeguards the U.S. forces, which is the strongest military power in the world. The Japan Coast Guard and the police protect the Ministry of Defense. Security of a private company are placed on the front line. People who are supposed to hold the power and interests involving national defense, including diplomatic and defense officials, are observing the conflict between the residents and the security guards from a safe heigh.

A sacrifice stone to protect mainland Japan again
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly cross-examined defense officials about why the construction work was delayed and strongly urged them to accelerate the work. This is revealed in a new report by a lawmaker close to the prime minister. According to the report, the Falklands war waged by the U.K. in South America, boosted the flagging support rate for the Thatcher cabinet. The Abe administration appears to have learned from historical precedents in which state leaders acquired their centripetal forces by fuelling nationalism. Prime Minister Abe has taken a tough stance against China over the disputed Senkaku Islands. The Abe administration is determined to build a new air base in Henoko to get the U.S. forces involved in the Senkaku Islands dispute. They are sacrificing beautiful nature, land, and the safety of Okinawa as a tribute to the United States to gain its favour.

A perspective of Henoko reminds us of a strategy employed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Battle of Okinawa. They made use of Okinawa, a “sacrifice stone” in order to postpone the decisive battle in mainland Japan. This strategy destroyed Okinawa. The coast guard has prevented the boats hired by news media from approaching the waters. The government is trying to punish the people who access information that it does not want to let them knowThis is a step forward to the reign of terror. The landfill approval by Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has led to this confusion. His approval of the landfill permit has no legitimacy because he acted contrary to his pledge for the election. The government should stop the work in Henoko immediately if Japan is a democratic country. In the gubernatorial election in November, candidates should ask voters whether they approve or disapprove construction of the air base in Henoko.

(English translation by T&CT)

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