US air base construction: Onaga critical of government’s refusal to hear Okinawan concerns

US air base construction: Onaga  critical of government’s refusal to hear Okinawan concerns

Governor Takeshi Onaga

October 30, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 29, the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Bureau began construction for the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago. On the same day, Governor Takeshi Onaga held a news conference at the prefectural office building, where he expressed his outrage at the government’s decision to forcefully begin construction before a final legal decision has been made regarding his revocation of the land reclamation permit. He also harshly criticized the government’s deployment of riot police in front of Camp Schwab, which he stated shows their heavy-handed attitude toward the Okinawans protesting the base construction. “The government keeps saying they’re dedicated to considering the feelings of the Okinawan people, but based on their actions, they clearly have no such intention,” Governor Onaga stated.

Regarding a document sent by the central government to Okinawa demanding a policy change as part of the government’s planned procedure to re-authorize the land reclamation by proxy, Governor Onaga stated, “By first rendering my revocation of the permit invalid through a request for administrative review, and then having the presiding governmental minister demand that I revoke my revocation, the government is clearly trying to act in a variety of contradictory capacities to suit its own convenience. Can they really face the world claiming that Japan is a country of laws?”

Regarding the government’s decision to cancel plans to move training by MV-22 Osprey aircraft stationed at U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma to Saga Airport, Governor Onaga stated, “During the lead-up to the national election last year, the relocation of Osprey training to Saga Airport was broadcast widely in the news. But now that they are at odds with Okinawa, they announce [they are cancelling the plan]. It’s nothing but ‘hanashikwachii’ (means smooth talk in the Okinawan dialect) to get past a difficult situation.”

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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