Koganei City Council adopts proposal on Henoko base issue


September 27, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo



During the plenary session of the Tokyo Prefecture Koganei City Council on September 25, the council members came to a decision via majority vote on the petition regarding the Henoko base issue.

Specifically, the petition calls for discussing, as a nation, the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma outside of the prefecture or country and to come to a decision after fair and democratic paperwork.

The petition also calls for making all municipalities of the nation equal candidate sites and “to conduct national discussions with a sense of ownership” while immediately canceling the construction of the new base in Henoko, Nago City.



The petition is based on the “New Proposals” by individuals interested in preventing the new Henoko base construction.

This is the first time it was adopted in Japan. In August, 30-year-old Seishin Komesu, who is originally from Okinawa, but currently lives in Koganei City, filed the petition to the city council.



The petition was deliberated during the plenary session on September 25 after passing through the city council’s Planning and Coordination Committee on September 20.

Excluding the chairman, 23 council members took a vote.

It was a majority vote where 13 were in favor from the Communist Party and other parties, 6 against from the Liberal Democratic Party, and 4 abstained from the Komei Party.



Following the vote, the city council is to create a proposal based on the petition and will hold a vote on October 5 during the plenary session.

It is predicted that the council will pass the proposal with a majority vote.



The petition lays out democratic and fair steps to resolve the new Henoko base construction issue.

It calls for specific methods, such as 1) calling off the construction of the new Henoko base and discontinuing the operation of the Futenma Air Station, 2) conducting a national discussion with a sense of ownership on whether or not U.S. military bases and alternative facilities are needed, and 3) if they are needed, then based on democratic and constitutional mentality, decide by fair and democratic paperwork.



People from Okinawa urge the city council, “Uneven distribution of the bases is discrimination”



Komesu made his rounds to the different parties and factions of the council to explain the objective of the petition, asked for consideration, and made a statement to the reviewing committee.

There were many council people who were a party of one, to which he said, “The government’s ruling and opposition parties not having a political environment that is systemized is a huge factor.”



Komesu moved to Koganei City five years ago.

He exchanged opinions via SNS with Nagatsugu Asato, a 46-year-old judicial scrivener (paralegal) who works to resolve base issues with fair and democratic resolutions. Komesu “identified” with Asato’s activities.

He decided to file the petition after reading a book published in May by Asato and others.

He felt that there was something he could do in the city he lived in as an Uchinanchu living in Tokyo.

At the time, he even intended to encourage policy debate in preparation for the prefectural governor election that was originally planned to take place in November.



While he was making his rounds to each party and fraction, a particular exchange with a centrist council person he had encountered left an impression on him. As they moved to and continued their discussion at an izakaya (Japanese restaurant bar), the council person, who approves of the Japan-US Security Treaty, gradually began to side with Komesu’s argument that the “uneven distribution toward Okinawa is discriminatory.”

Even during the vote, the individual sided with those in favor.



Petition items are typically carried over to the next session.

However, a vote was reached with this petition about a month after it was filed.

Komesu said, “Things going this smoothly was more than I had imagined. We achieved results in an official form, namely a vote at the assembly.”



Asato who works on the “New Proposals,” pointed out, “People say we can’t gain the understanding of the mainland. However, common sense talks like discussing this as a nation and taking responsibility in the results wasn’t happening. If the idea of the proposal spreads, then the government’s ‘only in Henoko’ logic will also collapse.”


(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)


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