(Sankei: March 4, 2015 – p. 7)
By Tadae Takubo, professor emeritus, Kyorin University
For a long time now, it has been exasperating to observe the exchanges between Tokyo and Naha. Governor Takeshi Onaga, who is opposed to the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City, is doing everything he can to stop the relocation.
On Feb. 22, a bizarre referendum where even middle school pupils who are minors and permanent resident foreigners voted was held on Yonaguni Island on the stationing of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) there, which, fortunately, accepted the SDF deployment plan.
The town of Taketomi recently became the only municipality to disobey a decision on middle school textbooks but the national government could not even control the local government.
No one is complaining even though Okinawa is the only prefecture that infringes upon the national government’s authority over foreign policy, defense, education, energy policy, and so forth. At the root of this problem is the struggle between Tokyo’s guilty conscience for concentrating the base-hosting burden on Okinawa and Okinawa’s long experience with manipulating this state of mind.
The Shinzo Abe administration is working very hard to make Japan a “normal country,” so I hope Okinawa will also try to become a “normal prefecture.”
The only noteworthy topic in the policy speech that Onaga read out recently at the Prefectural Assembly was his opposition to Henoko relocation. Under the subhead “present state of Okinawa,” there was no mention at all of the direction Japan is taking and Okinawa’s role in the frontline of national defense. The governor was not mindful at all of the Chinese government ships’ intrusion in the territorial sea near the Senkaku Islands or the threat posed by North Korea.
Certain Okinawan governors in the past have gone to Washington on many occasions to negotiate directly with the U.S. government on the base issues. They acted as if they were the leader of the state of Ryukyu independent from Japan. Many Japanese and U.S. officials must have been baffled.
Onaga is sending Hideo Henzan as the Okinawa government’s representative in Washington in April. In an interview with Okinawa Times on Feb. 25, Henzan said he will work hard to realize the governor’s campaign pledges and policies. This is quite different from his office’s mission to publicize Okinawa’s tradition, culture, and products in the U.S. Perhaps Henzan thinks he is the state of Ryukyu’s ambassador to the U.S.
I lived in Naha for more than a year before Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration. At that time, there were people who were connected to the Kuomintang in Taiwan or who carried a historical grudge against the mainlanders. Yet, no one contemplated Okinawa’s independence.
The two Okinawan newspapers’ fervent incitement of an “anti-Japan mood” is particularly dangerous in a situation of China’s military advances and the U.S.’s inward-looking tendency.
I would like to ask all sensible Okinawans what they think of the present indifference to the international situation and the circumstances surrounding Japan. (Abridged)