社説:辺野古移設に審判 白紙に戻して再交渉を

November 17, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Return Futenma base relocation negotiations to square one
社説:辺野古移設に審判 白紙に戻して再交渉を

Public opposition within Okinawa Prefecture to the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the city of Nago in the prefecture is never likely to wilt.

In the Okinawa gubernatorial election on Nov. 16, former Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga defeated incumbent Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who had approved the government’s application for a landfill project to build a replacement facility for the Futenma base in the Henoko district of Nago. His landslide victory denied Nakaima a third term in office.

Relocation of the base to Henoko stood as the primary issue in the election, and locals clearly voiced their opinion. Both politically and morally, it seems impossible for the central government to go ahead with the relocation as it stands. The government should return the relocation plans to the drawing board and resume negotiations with the U.S. government.


Onaga’s latest victory carries more weight than in previous gubernatorial elections.

This is because rather than engaging in a battle between conservatives and reformists, Onaga defined it as one between Okinawa and mainland Japan.

Onaga is a mainstay in Okinawa’s conservative political world.

Yet in the Nov. 16 election, some conservative local politicians were able to join hands with the Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party and other reformist parties to support Onaga, and he defeated Nakaima, who had been backed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and other groups.

Two slogans emerged as part of Onaga’s public pledge to oppose construction of a new base: “All Okinawa” and “Identity rather than ideology.” These phrases encompass the following about the situation and the people of Okinawa. The message they are saying is:

“The system of the Japan-U.S. security pact is understandable, but we want all of Japan to bear the burden of Japan’s security. It is unreasonable for Okinawa, which comprises just 0.6 percent of Japan’s total land area, to house 74 percent of U.S. military facilities. Is this not a form of structural discrimination?

“It is mistaken to think that Okinawa could not survive economically without military bases. Base-related revenue has fallen to 5 percent of Okinawa’s total. As it stands, the bases represent the single biggest obstacle to Okinawa’s economic development.

“The process of splitting up into leftists and rightists and conservative and reformist camps over the military base issue, and pressuring parties to decide between bases or the economy represents an old-fashioned way of thinking.  基地をはさんで左右や保革に分かれたり、基地か経済かの二者択一を迫ったりするのは、旧態依然の古い発想だ。

The base issue is no longer one of ideology.

Okinawa’s identity is the issue, and we will decide on Okinawa’s future by ourselves.”

Onaga’s victory raises serious questions for the Japanese government and each person in mainland Japan.

Why don’t people understand or have any interest in Okinawa’s current situation?

Why isn’t the public will of the people in Okinawa being faced seriously?

Doesn’t this run counter to democracy?

If the central government ignores the results of the latest election and goes ahead with the relocation as planned, the gap between mainland Japan and Okinawa will only widen, and could produce a decisive rift.

Okinawa cannot accept an excessive burden of hosting military bases while feeling that it is being discriminated against.

Conflicting positions are certain to destabilize the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

The central government has direct control over security, but this doesn’t mean that it can disregard the will of the people.

If security policies don’t win understanding from locals or the public as a whole, then they will not stand.

In situations like this, in which central government policy and the will of the people clash, the government should make an effort to close the divide. However, it has not sufficiently fulfilled its responsibility in this regard.

On the contrary, Onaga’s victory was fueled by intense anger from people in Okinawa over the way the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proceeded in connection with the Futenma base issue.

Nakaima was elected in the previous gubernatorial election after promising to relocate the Futenma base outside Okinawa Prefecture.

But at the end of last year, he approved the central government’s application to proceed with landfill work off Henoko in recognition of the government’s economic stimulus measures — a violation of his public pledge.

The pride of the people in Okinawa was hurt by the central government’s tactics, under which the government appeared to think it could win Okinawa over if it provided money in the form of stimulus measures.


With the problem having become so complicated, it is unrealistic to adhere to the current relocation plans.

This summer, the central government started a drilling survey on the seabed off the coast of the Henoko district in line with its land refill plans. It has indicated that it will go ahead with the relocation to Henoko regardless of the latest election results, but the survey should be called off.

However, if the Henoko relocation plans are taken back to the drawing board, this must not result in the Futenma base being left where it is.

The whole point of the Futenma relocation is to remove the danger posed by the base, which, with its close proximity to residential areas, has been described as the most dangerous in the world.

The Abe administration has promised to halt operations at Futenma within five years, and it must make an effort to lighten the burden posed by hosting U.S. military bases.

At the same time, it must not cut back the yearly budget of over 300 billion yen that it has promised to provide Okinawa in the form of stimulus measures.

Eighteen years have passed since an agreement was made on returning the Futenma base.

It is probably no easy task to renegotiate an issue over which Japan and the U.S. have made repeated agreements, but if the Japanese and U.S. indeed see eye to eye on the deep influence of public opinion in Okinawa, then discussions will naturally progress to a new stage.

The Japanese and U.S. governments say that relocation of the Futenma base to Henoko is the “only solution.” However, the view that this is unrealistic has emerged within U.S. Congress.

Senator John McCain and others proposed that Futenma be consolidated with the U.S. military’s Kadena air base. マケイン上院議員らが米軍嘉手納基地に統合する案を提案したこともある。

This summer, meanwhile, Joseph Nye, former U.S. deputy to the undersecretary of state for security assistance, pointed out the weaknesses of U.S. military bases on Okinawa, and sought revisions to the deployment of U.S. military forces in Japan.

So even in the United States, objections have emerged.

The role that the Japan-U.S. security alliance has in providing stability for Japan and other countries in Asia is large.  日米安保体制が日本とアジア地域の安定に果たす役割は大きい。

Considering China’s military expansion and maritime advances, and the situation in North Korea, it is necessary to maintain the deterrence provided by U.S. military forces in Japan.

The Japanese government must address friction with Okinawa and seek new negotiations with the U.S. to devise a solution — even if this is for the worthy purpose of smoothly operating the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

毎日新聞 2014年11月17日 東京朝刊

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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