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Column: Security legislation and Okinawa

  • 2015-05-14 15:00:00
  • , Mainichi
  • Translation

(Mainichi: May 14, 2015 – p. 10)


 By political reporter Nakae Ueno


 Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga met with Defense Minister Gen Nakatani on May 9. Nakatani expounded on Okinawa’s importance for Japan’s security and reiterated that the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station to Henoko in Nago City is the “only solution.”


 Onaga responded with: “For 70 years, Okinawa has been told it is important for security, but nothing has changed. The Japan-U.S. alliance and the bilateral security treaty now cover even the Middle East under the policy of globalization and proactive pacifism. If Okinawa will again play a role in all this, when can Okinawa stop serving global security?”


 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama advocated a “global Japan-U.S. alliance” at their summit meeting last month. Abe stressed in his speech to the U.S. Congress that the security legislation that will form the foundation of effective security policy is the “first sweeping reform in postwar history” and declared that he plans to “accomplish this by this summer.”


 The security legislation aims at “seamless” Japan-U.S. cooperation from peacetime to a contingency in Japan. It will not only remove geographical restrictions on Self-Defense Forces (SDF) operations, but will also promote cooperation between the SDF and the U.S. forces in Japan in all areas, including joint use of bases. While Onaga shows understanding for the Japan-U.S. security arrangements, he has never said that Okinawa does not want to be involved. Okinawa has reached the limit of shouldering the entire burden. He is asking how much of the increase in the burden resulting from a more robust alliance will be shouldered by the mainland.


 We are also to blame for our attitude of leaving security in the hands of the national government, which is the reason Okinawa has been shouldering an excessive base-hosting burden over the years. We hope for the government’s explanation and arguments that will also test the Japanese people’s “resolve” at the Diet deliberations on the security legislation. We hope that the debate will not be limited to talking at cross-purposes about Japan’s being “embroiled” in a war.

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