August 20, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
Nagoya – Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki brought his “Talk Caravan,” which is travelling Japan to share Okinawa’s position on new base construction in the Henoko neighborhood in Nago City and other national security issues, to a crowd of 780 people at the Nagoya Civic Assembly Hall in Aichi Prefecture. This is the second stop after the caravan debuted in Tokyo in June. In the keynote address, Governor Tamaki called for people to see what was happening in Okinawa as “your own problem,” and for resolving the issues through dialogue.
Governor Tamaki brought up the lack of transparency the Japanese government had regarding construction time and expenses, and the irregularity of their use of the administrative appeal act to undo Okinawa’s revocation of permission for land reclamation, stressing, “Already, it must be said that democracy and regional autonomy does not exist, as if we are expected to do as commanded from above. This is not a problem for Okinawa alone.”
In the panel discussion, Congressman Shoichi Kondo of the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP), talked of his experience pushing for a location such as Tinian Island in the South Pacific as a destination for the base relocation during the Democratic Party of Japan-controlled (DJP) Hatoyama administration. “There was opposition to carrying out the plan. You have to have cooperation from all of the bureaucrats and people,” he reflected, and said of the current situation in Okinawa, “The people’s will was made known in the election, and the U.S. government should change their strategy accordingly. There is a problem with building a new base in Henoko.”
Professor Akihiro Sado from Chukyo University expressed doubt regarding the deterrent power of the U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa, as well as the importance of the geographic location. He referenced Trump’s statements expressing dissatisfaction over the U.S. and Japan’s mutual security treaty, asking, “When Japan is forced to contemplate a number of different strategies instead of only relying on the U.S., would we still continue to single-mindedly pursue new base construction at Henoko?”
International University of Japan (IUJ) professor and former Commander General of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF) Dr. Noboru Yamaguchi, who was in favor of the relocation to Henoko, explained regarding the current plan, “I would not say that ‘this is the only way’, however my fear is that if we stop here, MCAS Futenma will remain frozen in place.” Conversely, he indicated the necessity of lessening the base-hosting burden placed on Okinawa, saying, “We must resolve to place some of the responsibility on people outside of Okinawa.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)