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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nago's Voice Turned Away in Tokyo: "No Sincerity in the Government" 名護市の声を屈辱の門前払い

Nago Mayor Inamine Susume, June 2010
(Photo from Sankei Shimbun)
On the early morning of November 4, Inamine Susumu, Mayor of Nago City of Okinawa, where Japanese and U.S. are planning to build a "replacement" base of MCAS Futenma, and Higa Yuichi, Chair of Nago City Assembly, went to Tokyo. Since a week before, they had requested to meet with the "top-three" politicians (Minister, Vice Minister, and Parliamentary Secretary) at the Prime Minister's Residence, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and Cabinet Office Okinawa Affairs. They spent the whole day of November 4 waiting for a reply. Tamaki Denny and Shimoji Mikio, Okinawan representatives of the Parliament helped negotiate with the government to set up a meeting.

The answer was "NO." Edano Yukio, DPJ's Acting Secretary-General refused to facilitate any meeting. Inamine and Higa were only met with administrative staff members of each ministry. "We will not respond to such 'political performance,'" Edano said. Inamine and Higa went to Tokyo to submit the recent resolution by Nago City Assembly, demanding the government to rescind the US-Japan agreement to build a base in Henoko. (See HERE for the English version of the resolution.) Okinawan newspaper Ryukyu Shimpo (November 6) responded, 

The resolution is the expression of Nago's democratic will, and the government calls it a "political performance".... The government keeps stressing, "We will explain carefully so the local residents will understand (the base plan)," but refuses to listen to the democratic voice of Nago.
On the morning of November 5, upon hearing a final "no," Inamine and Higa held a press conference within the Parliament building. Inamine said,

"I find no sincerity in how the government handled our request. Okinawans' anger will increase exponentially, because of this."
Inamine and Higa cut short their trip and went back to Okinawa.

What a change in the DPJ government.

Last year when I met with Iha Yoichi, then mayor of Ginowan (host of MCAS Futenma and vocal base opponent) and now candidate for the upcoming Okinawa gubernatorial election, he told me, "Under the LDP administration, we could only meet with the administrative staff of those ministries, but now we have DPJ government and Prime Minister Hatoyama, I have been able to meet with Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, and Prime Minister himself."

Now, still with DPJ government but now one that supports the new base plan in Nago, we are back to the LDP era, or even worse. Back in August, then Transportation Minister Maehara Seiji met with Shimabukuro Yoshikazu, former pro-base mayor of Nago, to sustain the government's influence on the pro-base forces within Nago. A Nago city's official said, "If it were a pro-base mayor who came to Tokyo, the Ministers would be begging to meet him."

Urashima Etsuko, a Nago activist and author of "The Choice of Nago" and many other books said,
"It is Japanese government's discrimination against Okinawa. We citizens of Nago are very angry. "
Nago's hope was betrayed by DPJ, and the betrayal is now reinforced in such a humiliating way.

For sure, this is going to be the exact treatment that the central government's politicians will get when they go to Okinawa to "explain carefully" to the people of Nago. 


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