Is Nago being divided again?
According to Kyodo News (below), this "Henoko Administrative Committee" has decided to conditionally accept hosting a replacement facility in Henoko, if the site for the planned runway is moved as off-shore as possible, to reduce noises.
What is going on? Oshiro Yasumasa, district mayor of Henoko said they had to adopt this resolution "before Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit on Sunday; otherwise the central government would impose their favourable conditions on Henoko."
Oshiro is aware that this resolution is against Nago Mayor Inamine's position. Inamine won the January 24 mayoral election on the ground that he would not allow a new base to be built in Henoko, off-shore of on-land. Oshiro said, "We are not inviting the base to Henoko. In case the government pushed the Henoko plan through, we would demand the best possible conditions from them."
Inamine commented, "The public will of Nago was made clear in the election. I would like to continue the dialogue so that the city would not be divided."
Okinawan author Medoruma Shun warns of recent suspicious activities going on in and around Nago.
According to Ryukyu Shimpo, on May 19, former Nago mayor Shimabukuro Yoshikazu and two other influential business leaders of Nago secretly met with Maehara Seiji, Cabinet Minister responsible for Okinawan affairs. Now that the government is considering going back to the 2006 Henoko plan with slight modifications to look more environmentally-friendly, Maehara met with those pro-base leaders of Nago to discuss plans to provide more "economic rejuvenation policies," monetary reward or compensation for hosting a military base.
On May 5, right after Hatoyama's first visit to Okinawa where he asked the island to bear more base burden, Okamoto Yukio, former diplomat and a top Hashimoto then Koizumi aide who played a key role in Okinawa-related policies in 90's and early 00's, covertly met with those local base supporters including Shimabukuro at this bar in Nago.
Ozawa Ichiro, Secretary General of DPJ was reported in May 22 Shukan Gendai as saying, just after the announcement of Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa, "Hatoyama is finally making a decision on the base issue, so I need to support him with all I can. It will be my job to contain Okinawans' opposition." Ozawa's and the government's time-tested way of buying consent is the use of "economic privileges," namely appointing Nago as an "special economic district" with tax exemption and a plan to develop a casino. The plan to build a pile-supported runway favoured by Hatoyama was unpopular because it would be "gene-con" (big construction companies) of the mainland that would be contracting them out instead of local businesses. This is why the government is going back to the reclamation plan, to provide more benefits to Okinawan construction companies.
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, in her May 21 "touch-and-go" visit to Japan, reiterated the U.S. emphasis on gaining local understanding in the decision process. Hatoyama will visit Okinawa again on May 23, and the U.S. and Japanese Governments are expected to release a joint announcement on the base plan on May 28th.
I am beginning to see the real intention of the U.S. stressing on local consent. I almost thought that it was a positive sign that the U.S. started paying more consideration to the unfairness of Okinawa's base burden. I now know that it is their way of ordering Japanese government to BUY local consent no matter what it costs, with those "economic privileges" that are being discussed over cocktails and sushi.
It is an extreme grim situation, but we should not give in, knowing the persistence and resilience of brave Okinawan citizens and their representatives like Nago's Mayor Inammine and Ginowan's Mayor Iha. Governor Nakaima today said "There is no way Okinawa would accept the government plan." He should be clearer on his own views, but he is right about the Okinawans.
On April 24, only a month ago, Hatoyama said "reclaiming a land in Henoko's ocean would be an act of sacrilege to the nature." A dugong being witnessed off the coast of Camp Schwab on May 12 was the nature's response to Hatoyama's sensible voice. We expect to hear more of that on Sunday, when he comes back to Okinawa.
(Some additional information after I posted the above)
Okinawa Times reported the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members will refuse to meet with Hatoyama and will instead sit-in in front of the Prefectural Assembly Building while Governor Nakaima meets with Hatoyama on Sunday. Speaker of the Assembly Takamine said, "we want to express our position to oppose the base rather than meet with the Prime Minister for 10 minutes."
There will also be citizens' demonstrations planned at the time of Hatoyama's visit.
Sunday, May 23rd
- 9:00 AM In front of Prefectural Hall
- 11:30 AM In front of Busena Resort (Western Shore of Nago)
Hatoyama is scheduled to meet with the Governor, with mayors of Northern
cities and towns, then with the business groups.
*********(Kyodo news below, first in Japanese and in English)******************
Henoko conditionally accepts U.S. base relocation
Saturday 22nd May, 02:08 AM JST
A local decision-making body in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa, eyed under a Japan-U.S. accord as the site for the relocation of a U.S. military base also in the prefecture, decided Friday to conditionally accept hosting a replacement facility.
The Henoko administrative committee adopted a resolution saying that the district would endorse a plan under the bilateral accord to transfer heliport functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in a crowded residential area of Ginowan to a coastal zone of the Marines’ Camp Schwab in Henoko. The local group said it would accept the plan if the site for the runways is moved offshore as much as possible to reduce noise and if the Japanese government increases economic incentives for the region, committee members said.