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Editorial: Governor asks Ambassador Kennedy for help on inspection

  • 2015-06-22 15:00:00
  • , Ryukyu Shimpo
  • Translation

(Ryukyu Shimpo: June 20, 2015 – p.2)

 

 Governor Onaga expressed hope that U.S. Ambassador Kennedy will demonstrate her leadership to facilitate the Okinawa Prefectural government’s spot inspection off Henoko in Nago City.

 

 In the meeting with the U.S. Ambassador Kennedy held in Tokyo, Governor Onaga conveyed his policy of opposition to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to Henoko. This is first meeting with the ambassador since his taking office last December.

 

 Originally, the governor sought a meeting with the ambassador before his visit to the U.S. that began from the end of May. Though the actual meeting took place later than the original plan, it was significant for the governor to be able to directly ask the ambassador to review the relocation plan.

 

 In the meeting, Onaga mentioned a series of elections including the gubernatorial election held last year in which Henoko relocation became the point of contention. He said: “The will of Okinawa people is not building a base at Henoko.”

 

 The meeting was held behind closed doors. According to the governor, the ambassador told him that the U.S. military presence is important, but she did not discuss the relocation issue. In the meantime, the U.S. Embassy Tokyo announced after the meeting that Ambassador Kennedy presented her view (in the meeting) that the Henoko relocation is “the only viable solution.”

 

 What the governor said and the embassy’s announcement contradict each other. But in either case, Ambassador Kennedy is not facing up to the will of the Okinawan people.

 

 The prefectural government highly suspects that the Okinawa Defense Bureau destroyed reefs in areas other than the prefecture-designated area in the ongoing seabed work off Henoko. For this reason, in February the prefectural government requested access for conducting an inspection in waters where the passage of ships has been temporarily restricted by the U.S. military.

 

 However, four months after the request, the inspection by the prefectural government office, the approving authority, has not taken place, which is very unreasonable, as well as an unpleasant situation for a sovereign country.

 

 To the prefectural government’s frequent inquiries about the inspection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) repeats the same response by saying, “The ministry understands that the U.S. military is considering the request,” which reveals the Japanese government’s subservient stance to the U.S. With reason, MOFA should lobby the U.S. military so that it will allow the prefectural government to conduct the inspection.

 

 When Onaga asked Ambassador Kennedy for her cooperation, she reportedly made no comment. That is an insincere response.

 

 In the meeting, the governor expressed the view that the entire Japanese public should share the burden of the security-related issues and asked for the ambassador’s cooperation in solving the issue of the excessive base burden on Okinawa. However, the ambassador reportedly expressed her gratitude for Okinawa’s “contribution” to the Japan-U.S. alliance. She did not respond to the governor’s request, which is extremely regretful.

 

 Ambassador Kennedy is scheduled to attend the Memorial Service for All Victims of the Okinawa War on June 23. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Okinawa War. It is high time for the U.S. government to squarely respond to Okinawa’s objection. We want Ambassador Kennedy to demonstrate a stance of responding to the will of Okinawa.

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