(Tokyo Shimbun: June 12, 2015 – p. 1)
By Kenichi Komatsu
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga spoke to the press in Naha on June 11 in his first formal press conference for the Okinawa group of the Japan National Press Club since his return from the U.S. Regarding the government’s plan to build a new base in Henoko in Nago City as a replacement facility for the U.S. military Futenma Air Station (Ginowan City), the governor said: “If the logic is sound, we need to clearly say ‘no’ with everyone united. This is not only an issue for Okinawa. I want everyone to understand that if this goes unaddressed it could happen anywhere in Japan.”
Regarding his decision to confront both the Japanese and the U.S. governments over the new base construction, the governor recalled his youth by saying: “I wondered why people in Okinawa had to fight about whether to go right or left. From my teenage years, I felt as if someone was looking down from above and laughing at us.”
Onaga expressed his view on the difference between the mindsets of the people in Okinawa and mainland Japan by saying, “There is something different in the back of their minds.” He went on to say, “People don’t seem to understand why we held such a huge rally with 35,000 people. It will be very difficult to bridge the gap, but by somehow bringing us closer together, I would be grateful if we can work together to deepen the discussions on the Japan-U.S. security arrangements and local autonomy.”
“Willpower that is strong enough to change Japan from the level of local government is needed. Naha was instantly reduced to ashes in the air raids. Unless we keep the national government in check at the local government level, our ordinary lives could be suddenly thrown into turmoil,” said Onaga, expressing his view that local governments are expected to play the role of preventing the national government from making mistakes.