Editorial – Newly elected Governor Tamaki announces his opposition to new U.S. military bases


October 1, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


The Okinawa gubernatorial election, held after the passing of Governor Takeshi Onaga, was won by former Diet member Denny Tamaki, 58. Tamaki, an opponent of the new U.S. military base construction in Henoko, Nago, defeated by a large margin the Abe administration-backed former mayor of Ginowan, Atsushi Sakima, 54.


During the election, Tamaki took the position of using his authority as governor to block the new base construction in Henoko, which is part of the relocation of MCAS Futenma, stressing, “I will not allow a new base in Henoko.”


His opponent, Sakima, was fully backed by the Abe administration, which is pushing for the Henoko relocation, however he refused to state his own position regarding the hot-button issue.


Tamaki’s landslide victory once again made clear the firm resolve of Okinawan’s opposition to the new base construction.

The central Japanese government should heed the clear message sent by the electorate for the second straight time in a gubernatorial election, and immediately cease construction of new base facilities in Henoko.


70% of all U.S. military land in Japan is concentrated in Okinawa, the most prominent of which is Kadena Air Base, which comprises an area four times the size of MCAS Futenma.

It is not an outrageous demand to request that the return of the land occupied by MCAS Futenma not lead to new military facilities within Okinawa.

During this election the ruling government coalition sent Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, LDP General Council Chairman Wataru Takeshita, and Komeito Party House of Councillors member Natsuo Yamaguchi to Okinawa in a full-scale effort to support Sakima.

Almost as if in coordination with the ruling coalition, slander and disinformation about Tamaki was also scattered all over the internet.

Even certain members of the Diet, who are supposed to lead by example, disseminated information of dubious quality.

In an Okinawan gubernatorial election, there has probably never been a candidate baselessly vilified to the extent experienced by Tamaki. It is likely that some of this information was believed by some voters as being true.

After World War II, the first time during U.S. military rule that a public election to directly select leaders to represent residents in Okinawa was 1968. It was a right fought for by Okinawans demanding expanded autonomy.

At that time, the LDP power-players like Shojiro Kawashima, Takeo Fukuda, and Yasuhiro Nakasone would come to Okinawa to strongly support the conservative candidates. The result was the election of the reform-minded Chobyo Yara as Chief Executive of the Ryukyu Islands.

It has been 50 years since then.

Japan’s ruling party intervened in the gubernatorial election and were defeated.

If we assume that they thought this candidate promotion plan would go as planned, wouldn’t it seem that they are looking down on Okinawans?

In the current situation in Okinawa, where the national ruling party and the prefectural ruling party are in staunch opposition, the people of Okinawa have clearly stated their wish to continue on the path set by the Onaga prefectural administration and have sent a resounding “NO!” back to Abe’s central government. The statement is loud and clear, “Okinawa will not just do what the central government tells us, we will decide what happens in Okinawa ourselves!”

The permission for land reclamation in Henoko Bay was revoked by Governor Takeshi for Okinawa August 31.

Japan’s government is looking to take legal action to overturn this.

At this juncture, if the new bases are continued to be imposed on us, Japan will no longer qualify as a democratic country.

The central government should respect the unshakeable will of the people of Okinawa and abandon the new base construction.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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