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Saturday, June 05, 2010

How Will Mr. Kan and Mr. Obama, Former "Civic Activists," Face Okinawa's Opposition? 「市民運動家」菅首相、沖縄の民意にどう向き合うつもりなのか

(Photo from Sankei Shimbun)

Japan's new Prime Minister Kan said the May 28 US/Japan agreement, in which a new base construction in Henoko and Marine training relocation to Tokunoshima were specified, was a "nation-to-nation, and government-to-government" one so it should be succeeded.

How would we make sense out of DPJ then, which won Okinawa's four seats in the August 2009 election on the platform for revising the 2006 agreement, which was a government-to-government one as well? Is Kan, who has been somewhat immunized from the Futenma quagmire for the past eight months, allowed to act as if nothing had happened and he had no responsibility for the party's betrayal of Okinawan people and the voters across the nation, who trusted DPJ would start making Japan an equal partner of U.S. by using political will and power to return Futenma to those who own it and to cancel the construction of the unnecessary and destructive new base in Henoko?

I grew up in Kan's constituency in western Tokyo and always respected him as somebody who trained to be a politician under late Ichikawa Fusae, a legendary politician and women's rights activist. It is also unfortunate that we have to welcome the first non-hereditary, socialist-bred Prime Minister in sixteen years in this way. Kan's integrity will face an ultimate challenge in how he handles the Okinawan resistance. As a former patent specialist and engineer, he may be able to come up with a creative solution that none of us has even thought of.

News just came in that Kan talked to Obama over the phone, confirming their commitment to the US/Japan agreement. In the same conversation, Obama told Kan that he, also as a former civic activist, felt he and Kan had something in common.

So how will two former civic activists deal with Okinawa's activists and follow through the agreement that was made despite the overwhelming opposition by the Okinawans?



  1. Anonymous2:19 pm

    It's simply incredible that two former civic activists are able to deny Okinawa's civic voice and "agree" on an environmentally destructive military base imposed by a foreign government on a community that unanimously rejects it.

    Obama should feel ashamed for even mentioning this background in the same conversation in which he and Kan agree to suppress democracy in Okinawa.

  2. PaxAmericana9:10 pm

    There are civic activists, and there are Ford Foundation civic activists. It would be very naive to ignore the issue of Mr. Obama's background and supporters. They do not remotely resemble those of peace activists.

    An enemy inside the gates is a lot more dangerous than one outside.