Intellectuals oppose arguments that bases in Okinawa are indispensable

Intellectuals oppose arguments that bases in Okinawa are indispensable

Speakers at a symposium called “Considering Okinawa’s Future from Ginowan” exchange opinions about Okinawa’s base burden and the true state of base economics at Ginowan Citizen’s Hall on December 18.

December 19, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

In Ginowan Citizen’s Hall on December 18 the New Diplomacy Initiative held a symposium called “Considering Okinawa’s Future from Ginowan,” concerning the issues of bases, economics, and local autonomy. Participants exchanged opinions on the methods of Okinawa’s opposition to its oversize share of the base burden, ways to dispel misinformation about base economics, the justification argument for the base concentration as a deterrent, and the necessity of clearly promulgating Okinawans’ viewpoints.

Shigeaki Koga, former official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry took the podium and spoke in part about the argument that the US-Japan Security Treaty is unilateral, in that is does not give Japan any responsibility to defend the US. He pointed out that, “This argument completely overlooks the burden on Okinawa. Okinawans deal with noise, accidents, crime, and the humiliation of their intentions being trampled upon.” In addition, he emphasized that even though, “The US says that when push comes to shove it will come to the rescue,” the meaning is actually that the US acts unilaterally, because, “…[the US] is not chasing away the Chinese ships close to the Senkaku Islands.”

During the symposium, president of Kanehide Group Morimasa Goya spoke about his own support in an Okinawan election last year of a candidate who opposed the construction of a replacement facility for Futenma Air Station in Henoko. He said that this stand is not a political movement, but a movement for the protection of Okinawan human rights. Also, he made the point that it is precisely because the economy is important that peace and democracy must be valued.
President of Kariyushi Group Satoshi Toyama mentioned that even though it is said that Okinawans are discriminated against, tourists who visit Okinawa for sightseeing yearn to live there proudly. As a remedy, he proposed, “Wouldn’t it be good as ‘peace tourism’ to increase the number of buses that go to Henoko to 10 or 20 daily?”

Tatsuya Ishikawa, deputy editor in chief of Okinawa Times, brought up former Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto’s statement that the reason for the US Marine Corps being put in Okinawa is a political one. Ishikawa says that even though 90 percent of Japanese citizens approve of the Security Treaty, they do not want the bases in their own backyards. He proposes that Okinawans should raise their voices to say that this attitude is unacceptable.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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