Okinawa governor’s “talk caravan” aims to spark nationwide discussion of Okinawa base issues

Okinawa governor’s “talk caravan” aims to spark nationwide discussion of Okinawa base issues

On June 11 in Le Port Kojimachi, Tokyo, Governor Denny Tamaki delivers his keynote speech at the first symposium of his talk caravan, through which he is asking people across Japan to consider the burden of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.

June 12, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 11 Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki started the first leg of his cross-country “talk caravan” at Le Port Kojimachi in Tokyo. This caravan will consist of lectures and symposiums, and is a move by the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) to make those across Japan consider issues such as the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) being forced on Henoko, Okinawa, despite the clear demonstration of local opposition to its construction.

Speaking in front of about 200 people, Governor Tamaki addressed the situation of construction at Henoko. He said, “When the interpretation of the law keeps being distorted, Japan’s democracy and local autonomy do not hold true. These are not Okinawa’s circumstances alone. I want people to think as independent individuals and make their voices heard nationwide.”

Governor Tamaki’s aim is to arouse a nationwide discussion about the U.S.-Japan security treaty, under which an overlarge share of the U.S. military base burden is concentrated on Okinawa. This is the first Okinawan caravan travelling throughout Japan since the one conducted by Masahide Ota’s gubernatorial administration in 1996. Following this first stop, Governor Tamaki will visit major cities in each national block and share Okinawans’ opinions on his travels.

In his keynote speech, Governor Tamaki looked back on the history of Satsuma’s invasion of Ryukyu, saying: “Coercion by statesmen has continued to the present day. I want you to see that Henoko is the prime example of that, and to think about what you would do as a sovereign [in such circumstances].”

He once again emphasized that he cannot accept the FRF in Henoko, saying: “The government says that Henoko is the only solution. However, Okinawan citizens have received no explanation about what places Henoko is compared to in order to make it the only solution. Since the reason and logic behind Henoko being the sole solution do not stand up to scrutiny, we request an explanation. Something that cannot be explained cannot be implemented.”

Furthermore he criticized, “Judging by the government’s words and actions, it is not doing this for its citizens.”

On this day Governor Tamaki’s keynote speech was titled, We love Okinawa – Governor Tamaki kick-off symposium: Let’s listen to Okinawans and think collectively. Jinshiro Motoyama, who pushed for the Henoko prefectural referendum, also gave a report.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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