(社説)政権と沖縄 「休戦」で終わらせるな

–The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 5
EDITORIAL: Tokyo-Okinawa ‘temporary truce’ too good an opportunity to waste
(社説)政権と沖縄 「休戦」で終わらせるな

Since a window of dialogue between the Abe administration and Okinawa prefectural government seems to have finally opened, every effort must be made to keep it open for continued talks.

Tokyo and Naha agreed Aug. 4 that all work related to the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Nago will be suspended for one month, starting Aug. 10. The parties also agreed to use this period for intensive talks until Sept. 9.

Without this agreement, the situation inevitably would have deteriorated into a quagmire, with both sides resorting to measures to outdo one another. Tokyo was poised to start shortly reclamation work for the construction of the new air base, and Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga was about to void the land reclamation permit issued by his predecessor.

The one-month moratorium came just in time to avert a showdown. For the first time since Onaga became governor eight months ago, Tokyo and Naha, which could never agree on anything, are finally sitting down together at the negotiating table. We welcome this development.

However, it will certainly not be easy for them to narrow their distance.

The duration of the talks is limited to only one month, and there is nothing to indicate that the Abe administration will deviate during this period from its set policy, which is that the relocation to Henoko is the only solution.

The administration’s decision to suspend work for one month was probably motivated by the following events scheduled during that period: The Upper House will be deliberating highly contentious bills on national security and the administration grapples with another divisive issue of restarting a nuclear reactor. Should the administration go ahead with the Henoko reclamation in disregard of the vehement resistance put up by the people of Okinawa, its already declining approval rating could go further south.

We cannot help suspect that the administration sees the period until Sept. 9 as nothing more than “temporary truce” until the national security bills become law.

Onaga is sticking to his position that construction of a new facility in Henoko is absolutely unacceptable. He has all the popular backing he needs from the results of last year’s Nago mayoral election, the gubernatorial election and the Lower House election, each of which represented a triumph of the people’s will to oppose the relocation plan.

Both Tokyo and Naha obviously have their own interests to consider, but we strongly hope they will let this precious opportunity for dialogue become the first step toward breaking the impasse.

The first thing they need to confirm is that the either/or argument of “Henoko or Futenma” has got to end.

Rather, the questions that should be asked include the following: What sort of foreign policy strategy does Japan need to establish a stable, long-term relationship with China? Where should U.S. forces and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces be positioned in that strategy? What is the significance of concentrating U.S. bases in Okinawa? And are U.S. Marine Corps bases really necessary in Okinawa?

All these issues must be reworked from scratch against the big picture, and the task requires more than just the Abe administration and the Okinawa prefectural government.

Specifically, the central government must hold serious talks with the U.S. government. The Abe administration cannot be considered to be taking Okinawa seriously so long as it continues to avoid such talks with Washington.

The coming month must be used to get the ball rolling in the right direction.


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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