[Editorial]Abe administration must meet anti-U.S base governor Onaga

January 8, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

We think the administration led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not understand the implications of candidates backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) being defeated in the Okinawa gubernatorial election and in the Lower House election , in which the LDP lost in all the Okinawan seats.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to meet Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga who is visiting Tokyo, regarding subsidies for sugarcane production in Okinawa. However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan refused to do so.

While the ministry stated it could not meet Onaga because of a tight schedule, it met with people involved in the Okinawa branch of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives accompanied by LDP lawmakers of Okinawa. Normally, when local organizations meet cabinet ministers, local lawmakers of the ruling party acting as go-betweens are accompanied by the governor. But in this case, Onaga was not invited to take part in the meeting. The LDP side shut out Onaga.

It is regretful and problematic that the ministry refused to meet Onaga despite the fact that he represents the Okinawan people as the Okinawan governor.

We assume the ministers curry favor with the Abe administration.

Following his accession to office, Onaga visited Tokyo to meet Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at the end of last year. However, they refused to meet the new Okinawan governor. The minister’s subsequent refusal is a continuation of this approach. The Abe administration does not understand that its snub of Onaga has further aggravated Okinawan people’s feeling against the central government. The Japanese government’s refusal to talk with Onaga who won the gubernatorial election by a large margin on a pledge to stop the plan to build a new base to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Henoko, Nago is equivalent to ignoring hundreds of thousands of Okinawan people’s voices supporting that pledge. The Abe administration is virtually ignoring democracy.

Sources tell us the administration is considering cutting the Okinawa promotion budget for the fiscal 2015. If this is true, the Abe administration is contradicting itself because it has been claiming the base issues are not linked to Okinawa’s funding. The Abe regime appears to be oppressing Okinawa, which opposes its policies.

Furthermore, the LDP headquarters did not invite Onaga to take part in a meeting to discuss the Okinawan promotion budget, which was held on January 8. They are treating the OPG with a totally different attitude than they did the previous one led by former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who supported building an alternative base in Henoko.

In the Okinawa branch of the LDP, some members are said to have voiced that they do not need to cooperate with Onaga, who supported anti-LDP candidates in the Okinawan seats in the House of Representatives election. They claim it is reasonable for the lawmakers of the LDP to side with the central government. It appears they are trying to show off their power. However, this attitude of the ruling party members is narrow-minded. Okinawan people are shying away from the LDP lawmakers of Okinawa, who prioritize partisan interests over local interests.

With regard to the central government’s refusal to meet him, Onaga said, “I would like Okinawan people and the people in the main islands of Japan to see the situation as it is, and think about it.” The Abe administration should now directly face the fact that its snub of the Okinawan governor invites further disapproval from Okinawan people and it should be ashamed of its undemocratic attitude.

(English translation by T&CT)

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