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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nago Mayor Inamine, one year after the election: "The government must accept the all-Okinawa 'NO' to the new base." 名護・稲嶺市長一年を振り返る:「オール沖縄で基地は駄目。政府は受け止めるべき」

Inamine Susumu, Nago Mayor
 A year has passed since Inamine Susumu won the Nago mayoral election of January 24, 2010, on the platform that he would not allow a new US military base to be built either on land or on the sea. A year later, he is firm and committed on his principle of creating a thriving community not dependent on subsidies in exchange for hosting bases. Here is a summary of Rykyu Shimpo's interview with Mayor Inamine, on January 20, 2011.

- How would you reflect the past year?

I won the election on the pledge that I would neither allow a new base on land nor on the sea. After the election, I repeatedly demanded the government to accept the result of this election. The Prime Minister and other ministers heard me, but they would not change their position, and reached the US-Japan joint statement on May 28 (one that confirm the two governments' intention to build a base in Henoko). Futenma issue is a big political challenge, and the situation now (under the DPJ government) is even worse than that of LDP/Komeito. In the last gubernatorial election, even Governor Nakaima, who had previously supported the Henoko base plan, changed his position and put forward an election agenda "to review the US-Japan agreement and to relocate MCAS Futenma to outside of Okinawa." This is the reality of Okinawa.

- What is your thought on the government's response?

The government's actions and words make me believe they are just trying to make US happy. The Japanese government should demand US for reduction of Okinawa's base burden instead of trying to convince Okinawa. I have stated that I will resolve the Futenma issue, but the situation has not changed unfortunately. I will keep fighting, gathering support from across Okinawa to keep my promise with people of Nago.

- The "Realignment Subsidy" (one given to base-hosting communities as base construction proceeds) was frozen by the government.

The "carrot and stick" nature ("carrot" as subsidies, and "stick" as base-hosting burden) of the government's policy has come to surface. I want to seek alternatives, with the help of Nago city staff members. This is a big challenge for the new year.

- Can you gain Nago citizens' support by "eonomic development plans" (subsidy programs) ?

The mayoral election (a year ago) was the result of Nago citizens' assessment of the last ten years of the development policies. We won't make the same mistake again. People of Nago hardly benefited from the "carrot" (subsidy income). We will no longer be lured into accepting a new base by the idea of further subsidy.

- How would you work with the Governor?

Governer (Nakaima) pledged for the Futenma base to move outside of prefecture. I would like to work with him wherever I can. (Regarding Nakaima's plan to visit US) If the Governor wants us (other municipal leaders) to go with him, it may be more effective. We have to work out details.

- What is your message to the government?

The voice of Okinawans is clear. Since the Nago election last January, most of the subsequent elections  were won by candidates who opposed a new base in Okinawa. It is an all-Okinawa "NO." The government must accept this.

For more information on the current situation and the history of base opposition and political situations in Nago, see following articles.

Urashima Etsuko and Gavan McCormack
Electing a Town Mayor in Okinawa: Report from the Nago Trenches

Gavan McCormack, Sato Manabu and Urashima Etsuko
The Nago Mayoral Election and Okinawa’s Search for a Way Beyond Bases and Dependence

(written after the Nago election in January 2006)

Miyagi Yasuhiro
Okinawa and the Paradox of Public Opinion: Base Politics and Protest in Nago City, 1997-2007

Norimatsu Satoko
History of "Futenma Replacement Facility" Plans

Kikuno Yumko
Henoko, Okinawa: Inside the Sit-In


辺野古反対を貫く 稲嶺進名護市長当選から1年2011年1月20日



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