(Asahi: January 18, 2015 – p. 4)
In the December general election, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party lost in all of the four single-seat constituencies in Okinawa. Toshinobu Nakasato was one of the winners, all of whom are opposed to the government’s plan to relocate the U.S. Futenma air station to Henoko. The election results there are a far cry from most constituencies on the mainland, where the LDP scored resounding victories.
“Relocation to Henoko is the only option,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after the election. But Nakasato rebuts this argument. “The Okinawan people have conveyed their thoughts through elections over and over again, but I feel there is no democracy in Okinawa,” he said.
But he has no idea how to reflect Okinawa’s voice in national politics. The LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito command more than a two-thirds majority of the Lower House. Representing Okinawa, meanwhile, there are only four people.
Politicians can wield their influence based on which political party they belong to and how long they have served in the Diet. Nakasato is an independent elected to the Lower House for the first time. Though he is one of the oldest Diet members, he is a newcomer, which means he must be seated in the front row of the Lower House chamber and will hardly be given any opportunity to take the stand to ask questions.
What can be done to convey Okinawa’s voice to the mainland? Nakasato stated categorically: “Okinawa will never return to what it was before. If the Abe government continues to ignore Okinawa’s voice and play hardball with us, we may discuss the possibility of establishing Ryukyu as an independent country.”
Is Okinawa’s voice so feeble that it can be blown off that easily? The first Diet session of the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II is about to begin. (Abridged)