The re-opening of Henoko construction is the exact opposite of “Embracing Okinawa”


November 2, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


The re-opening of construction at Henoko is the exact opposite of what was explained by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo when he said in a policy speech, “We will embrace the hearts of everyone in Okinawa.”


The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) has re-started land-filling activity as part of the plan to relocate MCAS Futenma to Henoko Bay in Nago, Okinawa.

A float indicating the water in the bay as a temporary restricted area as well as an anti-pollution covering has been installed in the bay.

The government is planning to start filling the bay with sand this month.


Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki is requesting a consultation with the government, however the government has already re-started construction as if to say, “There is no use in arguing.”

Does the government expect more and more people to see this show of overwhelming force and simply give up, thinking there is no fighting the government?

Without a doubt, this is the behavior of a conqueror.

It brings into doubt the foundation of Japan’s democracy.


The landfilling itself, was approved by a previous governor, and said approval was revoked by Governor Tamaki’s predecessor, the late Takeshi Onaga, on August 31.

The legal justification for the construction was at that time lost, and construction stopped.


In this year’s gubernatorial election, Governor Tamaki, who vocally opposed new base construction, won in a landslide, however the government is not respecting the will of Okinawa’s residents.

Instead, the Ministry of Defense filed a lawsuit demanding the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism review the approval revocation using the Administrative Appeal Act as a legal foundation, and additionally, filed a petition to cancel the efficacy of the revoked approval preventing them from restarting construction without waiting for the result of the review.


The Administrative Appeal Act used as the legal basis for the lawsuit, was passed with the intention of being used by private individuals against government organizations. For the government to refer to itself as a private individual and file suit against a government body within its own country is a heavy-handed strategy many legal scholars consider illegal.

Only 13 days after the filing of the suit, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism received an objection from Okinawa Prefecture, but only 5 days after that decided to suspend the land-filing approval revocation.

The construction is continuing as planned despite objections.


The standoff over Henoko between the governments of Japan and Okinawa is not a problem for Okinawa alone.

The Japanese government has trampled the will of the people of Okinawa with an iron fist in order to build a base for the U.S. military.

It sets a dangerous precedent of allowing the government do whatever they want under the guise of national policy.


For example, take the Japanese government’s plan to install the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefectures.

Prime Minister Abe has said that, “Having the understanding of the regions is a major premise. We will continue to respectfully respond to any worries or requests.” However, despite all of the “respect” and “humility,” at the end of the day is not still the wielding of a heavy hand?

The same could be said for the permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste.


While claiming a decentralization of authority, the government continues to ignore the voices of the people who live in those regions, and the carrot-and-stick methods used by the Abe administration to shut out their opponents needs to be stopped.

To that end, the people of Japan need to learn about the Henoko issue, and raise their voices to let the government know that this is not normal.


In the Okinawa gubernatorial election, the candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito was said to embrace the central government, and ran a campaign with overwhelming resources and personnel, however the people of Okinawa rejected their “conqueror” and elected Denny Tamaki by a historic margin.

The Abe administration must listen to the message being sent by the people of Okinawa.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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