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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sengoku retracting his statement, and Okinawans are ready to protest Kan's visit

At a press conference held on December 14, Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito retracted his statement made on the previous day, which met fierce protests from Okinawans, including Governor Nakaima Hirokazu. Sengoku said on 13th that he wanted Okinawans to "kanju" (甘受) - a Japanese verb that means "to accept" something despite difficulties it entails. He asked Okinawans to "kanju" the base burden, because "Our security concerns require deepening of Japan-US alliance and Japan-South Korea collaboration." (See previous post.)

For Prime Minister Kan Naoto's visit to Okinawa on December 17 and 18, various protests are being planned in Okinawa to express opposition against the Henoko base plan and against the mainland's continuing discrimination to impose base burden on Okinawa.

When Kan Naoto, formerly a civic activist became Prime Minister, I wondered whether he wanted to be remembered as a Prime Minister who bulldozed Okinawans to build a new base in Henoko.

It is sad to see what Kan and Sengoku, formerly a student activist in 60's, have become once they are in power.

Kan, in his first visit to Okinawa as a Prime Minister in June, thanked Okinawans for their base burden, and later on apologized for it, saying it was an inappropriate statement. Now he intends to go back there to "apologize where apology is due."

One thing that is clear is that appreciation and apology only make sense when those are made with consideration of the recipients' feelings. In this case, any appreciation and apology only sends a message to Okinawans that there is no room for negotiation for the Henoko base plan and it will be built.

I just cannot see Kan's visit to Okinawa this week will produce any positive result.

It will, however, be an opportunity for Okinawans to reinforce their opposition against the new base, after the election.





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