[Editorial]Okinawa Governor Nakaima should resign for betraying the Okinawan people by approving the Henoko landfill

December 28, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has approved land reclamation work in the Henoko district of Nago in preparation for moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. With this he has effectively reneged on his pledge to move the base outside Okinawa.

This politically motivated move runs contrary to the will of the majority of Okinawan people and is a mistake of historic proportions. It is something that we simply cannot accept.

In the 2010 gubernatorial election campaign Nakaima promised to have the base moved outside Okinawa. When asked by a member of the media if his decision represents a withdrawal of that pledge, Nakaima said, “I have not changed my public commitments.” However we look at it, his explanation is willfully deceptive. It goes without saying that the Japanese government will interpret the governor’s decision as a green light for the relocation. Nakaima should acknowledge his responsibility and resign immediately. He should then call an election through which the Okinawan people can pass judgment on him.

Woeful travesty

In addition to the vagueness of Nakaima’s statement about compliance with laws, he is selective in his positive assessment of the central government’s suggestions for reducing Okinawa’s burden of bases. This is deceitful to say the least.

Nakaima commented that the Abe administration has been the most considerate of all cabinets towards Okinawa. He seems to have forgotten that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party headquarters forced its Okinawan branch and local Okinawan Diet members to withdraw their pledges to move the base outside Okinawa. The Okinawan people will not remember Nakaima as a governor who made a positive contribution to the prefecture.

On the matter of a reduction of the burden of bases on Okinawa, the idea of Futenma Air Station ceasing operation within five years is a “shared perception” or verbal agreement. Rather than referring to a fundamental revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement Abe only stated that the government will “start negotiating” towards a new special agreement.

Similarly, on the topic of the MV-22 Osprey, Abe merely talks of transferring training flights to other parts of Japan. The 24 aircraft will continue to be deployed in Okinawa.

So in essence, the Japanese government has provided no answers to the core elements of the governor’s requests.

Nakaima’s decision to ignore the Okinawan people’s opposition to the Henoko relocation has significantly wounded their dignity.

His decision to effectively revoke the application in Okinawa of the universal values such as freedom, democracy and respect for basic human rights that the United States and Japan trumpet is humiliating. By rights he should have pointed out the double standards of the U.S. and Japanese governments, and called for democracy to be applied in Okinawa as well.

Nakaima sends out the wrong message by trading off approval of the Henoko landfill in order to affect the government’s policies to promote the Okinawan economy and base issues. Coverage of this by the Japanese and overseas media suggests that Okinawa is prepared to her soul for money. His bringing this about is sinful in the extreme.

There should never have been a political trade-off around the Henoko relocation. By rights the Japanese government is responsible for policies to promote the Okinawan economy and to reduce the prefecture’s burden of bases. For the people of Okinawa, Nakaima’s overrating Abe’s track record on this is a woeful travesty.

Japan sacrifices Okinawa once again

In his meeting with Abe on December 25, Nakaima said, “I think that Okinawa hosting U.S. bases contributes to Japanese security. We are now supporters of your administration. I am grateful for what you have done.”

We are excruciatingly uncomfortable with this. The governor would seem to have forgotten Okinawa’s tragic history in which huge numbers of its people died in the battle fought here. Without uttering a word of criticism of security policies heavily dependent on the military, Nakaima’s ravings essentially approve the U.S. and Japanese governments turning Okinawa into a military fortress. This is an act of sacrilege not only towards the Okinawans alive now, but also to those who died in the war, and to the generations yet to come. It is a crime of historic proportions.

If Nakaima’s statement of “support” means Okinawa serving as a military keystone in the “assertive pacifism” projection of military force espoused by the Abe administration, we cannot allow this to pass unnoticed. During the Battle of Okinawa, the Imperial Japanese Army sacrificed the Okinawan people in order to protect the main islands of Japan. We cannot allow the governor to grant approval for the people of Okinawa to be sacrificed once again.

The mission of the Okinawa governor is to do his utmost to protect the lives, property and living environment of the people. The governor should not treat Okinawan people badly nor help the U.S. and Japanese governments to impose colonial policies on Okinawa in order to divide its residents.

Representatives of the people of Okinawa, including members of the Prefectural Protest Rally Executive Committee, Prefectural Assembly and the 41 heads of the municipalities in Okinawa went to Tokyo. They handed a petition to the prime minister requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden. It also demanded that the U.S. and Japanese governments close and remove Futenma Air Station and move any replacement facility outside of Okinawa. The cancelation of the deployment of the Osprey to Okinawa was also included.

Governor Nakaima has betrayed the people of Okinawa – he must resign.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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