(Ryukyu Shimpo: November 15, 2015 – p. 2)
You too, Consul General (ConGen) Joel Ehrendreich? The remarks repeatedly made by U.S. diplomats who openly demonstrate the stance of an occupier make us feel appalled rather than angry.
In an exclusive interview with the Kyodo News regarding strong local opposition to the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma airfield to Henoko in Nago City, ConGen Ehrendreich expressed his view by saying, “Although it is a very important and serious issue, it is just one small part in the U.S. force realignment initiative designed to reduce the base burden and strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance.”
Although the consul general is assigned to Okinawa, he tries not to look squarely at the reality, which is the same thing as dereliction of duty. We find his qualifications as a diplomat questionable. We want the consul general to withdraw his remarks, apologize to the citizens of the prefecture, and to leave the prefecture as soon as possible.
When Kyodo News asked the consul general what he meant by calling local opposition “one small part,” the top American diplomat explained: “The opposition in and of itself is not small. But, it is one part when considering the relationship between Japan and the United States or between Okinawa and the United States.” This shows that his remarks in question were not a misstatement but his firm belief that it is a “small part.”
Through the Nago City mayoral election and the prefectural gubernatorial election, the Okinawa people repeatedly expressed their opposition to the Henoko relocation. It runs counter to democracy not to accept the will of the people. Isn’t the U.S. supposed to be a democratic nation? A matter related to the future of Okinawa should not be considered a “small part.”
U.S. government officials such as the consul general in Okinawa have repeatedly made remarks that undervalue Okinawa’s opposition to the U.S. military bases. Before Ehrendreich, ConGen Alfred Magleby said that people who participate in anti-U.S. bases activities “are devoid of reason.” Raymond Green who took office as the consul general in 2009 mistakenly stated that “20% of Okinawa’s public opinions are against the U.S. military bases, 20% are for, and 60% are neither against nor for.” After serving as consul general in Okinawa, Kevin Maher became director of the State Department’s Office of Japan Affairs. He called the people of Okinawa “masters of extortion against the Japanese government.” Maher was replaced after he made the remarks.
“A pain of the little finger should be the same as a pain of the whole body,” said Shinei Kyan, a former member of the House of Councillors and chairperson of the Council for Homeland Return. In February 1969, while Okinawa was in a state similar to military colonization, Kyan said this in a Diet session. His words represent the feelings of the Okinawan people. As Kyan said, “As long as the issues of Okinawa are concerned, we are the primary party.”