Editorial: Liberal Democratic Party of Okinawa should show the pride of Okinawan conservatives

April 11, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Liberal Democratic Party of Okinawa (Okinawa LDP) held its 48th annual convention and solidified its policy of “accepting” the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma to Henoko, Nago City. This represents a shift away from its previous position of “pursuing every possibility, including relocation to Henoko.”

However, does the pride of Okinawan conservatives not rest on convincing the government and LDP headquarters to push the Abe administration, which refuses to change its position that “Henoko is the only option”, to instead investigate “every possibility”? The Okinawa LDP at one point campaigned on the promise to push for Futenma to be relocated outside of Okinawa, and must be held accountable.

At the convention, the party announced, “We can conceive of no concrete and realistic policy other than to accept the relocation [of Futenma] to a replacement facility in Henoko in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling.”

On what grounds do they allege that accepting the Henoko plan is “realistic”? Last month, a private think tank compiled an advisory report proposing an alternative to the Henoko plan. The report offers a paradigm shift, suggesting that rather than search for a “location” to serve as a replacement for MCAS Futenma, a solution can be found by modifying the operations of the U.S. military itself. Has the Okinawa LDP investigated their proposal?

The Okinawa LDP went on to criticize the governor, saying, “There is no prospect of realizing the cessation of operations [at MCAS Futenma] within five years, and it is all because of Governor Onaga’s lack of cooperation.” Such a remark does nothing but echo the prime minister’s comments.

In February of this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that cessation of operations at Futenma within five years, something he had promised himself, was unfeasible, saying, “Governor Takeshi Onaga is not cooperating with us. It is a difficult situation.”

The prime minister made the aforementioned promise to then-Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and solidified it with a cabinet resolution to “make every effort”, then abandoned his promise without putting in any effort and attempted to shift the blame to Governor Onaga. From the start, it was merely an empty promise fabricated to get the former governor to agree to the Henoko land reclamation.

In his opening remarks at the convention, Okinawa LDP leader Moriyuki Teruya compared the national government to a “parent” with Okinawa as its “child” and criticized the Onaga administration, saying, “The child is unilaterally criticizing its parent, the government, and causing conflict.” However, after Japan’s laws were amended to decentralize power, the national government and regional governments were put on equal footing, and it is therefore inappropriate to compare their relationship to the hierarchical relationship of a parent and child.

At the prefectural assembly, Governor Onaga has stated that being an Okinawan conservative means “understanding the necessity of national security while questioning injustice that cannot be tolerated.” In the 1960s, when the mainstream LDP was unable to go against the authoritarian rule of High Commissioner Caraway and upheld the status quo, Naha Mayor Junji Nishime and other reformists defected from the LDP, seeking increased right to self-governance.

By using the word “realistic”, thereby deferring to and becoming indistinguishable from the Abe administration, the Okinawa LDP is deviating from the tradition of Okinawan conservatives.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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