[Editorial]Anti-US base mayor re-elected: Japan and US should abandon Henoko plan

January 20, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

In the Nago mayoral election, the incumbent Susumu Inamine, who rejects moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago, won a landslide victory in his second term against Bunshin Suematsu, a former Okinawa prefectural assembly member who backs the government’s relocation plan. In the election, the residents showed clearly their desire to reject the Henoko plan. This is a historic declaration of the right to self-determination, in which the residents asserted that they would decide the future of the region for themselves. We should accept seriously their decision to refuse the base. Both the governments of Japan and the United States should abandon the Henoko plan, and respect democracy and the right to self-determination of the Nago people. Moving the U.S. Marines from Futenma outside Okinawa and closing the base is the quicker way to reduce the potential risk for the community.

Election result indicates no-confidence in Okinawa Governor

We would like to express our sincere respect to the residents who voted with pride, having a vision of sustainable, peaceful and prosperous development of Nago for their children and grandchildren.

Mayor Inamine has consistently insisted that he would not permit the government to build the new base in Henoko to protect the children and the natural environment. Believing his determination, it was likely that the electorate of Nago would entrust the development of the city, the future of their children and themselves to him.

The result of the election should be seen as a strong no-confidence vote against Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who canceled his election pledge in which he promised to relocate the Futenma base outside the prefecture and approved the Henoko landfill application from the central government at the end of last year. Governor Nakaima should take the result of the election seriously and withdraw the landfill approval. We urge the governor to ask the central government to abandon the planned relocation of the Futenma base within the prefecture with support from the public in Okinawa, instead of following the colonial policy by the Abe administration, which is trying to divide Okinawan people. If the governor tries to cling to the Henoko plan by the central government, he will betray the Okinawan people. If so, he should resign from his post.

The five LDP Diet members from Okinawa, the LDP prefectural chapter members and some heads of the municipalities who withdrew their election pledges should also go back to their promises.

Since the agreement in 1996, the people in Nago have been swayed by whether they accept or reject the Henoko plan. However, the residents rejected the sacrifice that both the governments of Japan and the United States required. This represents a milestone for the people who will be able to be proud of it into the future. During the campaign, the Liberal Democratic Party asserted that they would settle the relocation issue in this election. If so, they should abandon the Henoko plan. We would like the 47, 000 voters to be single-minded in their efforts to develop the Yambaru community which has beautiful scenery, abundant natural and cultural resources.

If the governments bulldoze their way to build the new base in the small islands of Okinawa, it will become a heavy burden on the residents, including human rights violations and a growing common threat to life and property. Chimu gurisa in the Okinawan dialect means sharing the sufferings of others. We have respected the old Okinawan spirit of this expression. It is unbearable for the people of Okinawa to build the military base within the prefecture.

President Obama should admit democracy in Okinawa
The U.S. Marines have deployed 24 Osprey aircraft to Futenma base. This move has put a serious burden on the residents. We are not going to allow a situation like that to continue.

According to an opinion survey conducted by the Ryukyu Shimpo, immediately after the Okinawa Governor approved the landfill, 73.5 percent of all respondents asked for the Futenma base to be closed unconditionally and relocated outside the prefecture or overseas. Building a base within Okinawa to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is unacceptable. This is the will of the people of Okinawa.

We need support from the people who live in the mainland of Japan to close Futenma base. We don’t want them to sit back and wait for the issue to be resolved in some other way.

Some diplomacy and security experts in the United States discuss the plan B, instead of the Henoko relocation plan that they used to promote.

Western intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winners, also oppose the Henoko relocation. The world’s conscience keepers support the Okinawan people.

Japan and the United States should understand the changing realities surrounding the Futenma issue. They accomplished the Okinawa reversion in 1972, a historic achievement between two countries through the diplomatic negotiation. As long as they set their minds to it, they should be able to close and remove the Futenma base, which occupies about 480 hectares. The Okinawan people have expressed their rejection to the Henoko plan by using the democratic procedures of voting in the national elections, the gubernatorial race, the elections for prefectural assembly members and the municipal mayor elections. The Henoko plan has never once had a majority of Okinawans in favor of it in opinion surveys. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama said that they would pursue international diplomacy based on the fundamental values of freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law. If so, we want them to apply democracy in Okinawa. It will be impossible to implement the Henoko plan that ignores the will of the people. It is time for the government to cancel the planned Futenma relocation.

(English translation by T&CT)

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