Governor Onaga tells foreign media: Tokyo’s Henoko policy is like US policy during occupation

Governor Onaga tells foreign media: Tokyo’s Henoko policy is like US policy during occupation

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga says, "I will not allow a new U.S. base to be built in Henoko," at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, Tokyo, on May 20.

May 21, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga on May 20 held press conferences at the Japan National Press Club and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. “They are using bayonets and bulldozers to forcibly build a military base in the sea,” he said referring to how the governments of Japan and the United States are pushing forward with preparation work for a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago. The new base is intended to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The governor criticized the central government for its heavy-handed approach, comparing it to the way the U.S. military confiscated land to build bases during the U.S. occupation of Okinawa.

Governor Onaga is scheduled to visit the United States from May 27. He said, “I will visit many times, if the situation calls for it.” He also said that he would strengthen Okinawa’s outreach to the United States.

The Governor held the press conferences in Tokyo to convey his message of opposition to Henoko to domestic and international public opinion ahead of his trip to the United States.
Onaga stated, “In theory, the former governor’s landfill approval can legally be withdrawn or cancelled. I will exercise the governor’s authority effectively. Working together with Nago Mayor, I will not allow the U.S. base to be built in Henoko. We can stop it.”

Asked about why he changed his stance from supporting the Henoko relocation to opposing it by reporters at the Japan National Press Club, the governor said, “At the time, then Governor Keiichi Inamine accepted the Henoko relocation plan with conditions such as a new airfield for joint military-civilian use for 15 years. However, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi discarded [the conditions]. All Japan, including the Liberal-Democratic Party and the Democratic Party, continue to accept the presence of the U.S. bases in Okinawa. We lost 100,000 people during the Battle of Okinawa 70 years ago. We should not pass on the U.S. bases to our children and grandchildren. Conservative politicians who were born in Okinawa should work to protect future generations.”

The Abe administration says that the Henoko relocation is necessary to reduce Okinawa’s burden, in terms of hosting the U.S. forces. The governor pointed out that under the current proposals the US military presence would only be reduced by 0.7% – the closure of all bases south of Kadena would effectively be cancelled out by the construction of new bases elsewhere in the prefecture.

According to the governor, he pointed out to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at their recent meeting that ‘the base return plan does not appear to be progressing steadily.’

The governor explained the U.S. base issue in detail to the reporters, including how the land was first taken over from the local people for military use. He also criticized the central government for pushing the Henoko relocation, saying, “It is a corruption of Japanese politics.” “All the people should bear responsibility for Japan’s security. They have no backbone, because they press this responsibility on only one prefecture. The Abe administration demonstrates its new concept of ‘proactive pacifism,’, but they are not up to it.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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