Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not mention the base issues, economic development, or any other issue related to Okinawa in his policy speech to the Diet on Nov. 17. This is the first time there was no mention of Okinawa in a policy speech at the Diet since Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s speech 12 years ago in September 2005 after his victory in the House of Representatives election over the postal privatization issue.
Abe’s emphasis on the North Korea situation and the problem of a low birth rate combined with an aging population without touching on the U.S. bases in Okinawa was viewed by ruling party Diet members as “pragmatic,” but criticized by opposition Diet members as “insincere.”
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Lower House member Seiken Akamine said Abe was “evading” the Okinawa issues.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Lower House member Kantoku Teruya said: “There was no mention at all of a solution to the base issues in Okinawa or measures for its economic development. The Abe administration has become increasingly arrogant after its victory in the general election.”
Liberal Party Lower House member Denny Tamaki made these comments: “Omission of any mention of Okinawa is a sign of utmost contempt. This cannot be overlooked. We will confront him in Diet deliberations.”
Okinawa Whirlwind House of Councillors member Keiko Itokazu voiced the following criticism: “While exaggerating the North Korea threat to justify the reinforcement of missile defense under a strong Japan-U.S. alliance, there was absolutely no consideration for the danger posed by the U.S. bases that the Okinawans are exposed to under an unequal Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). This was an extremely insincere policy speech.”
Okinawa Whirlwind Upper House member Yoichi Iha said: “There was no mention of reduction of Okinawa’s base-hosting burden and economic development. Okinawa’s disparity with the mainland is the result of the Battle of Okinawa, U.S. military occupation, and the concentration of bases. The responsibility lies with the government,” demanding policies that will benefit the Okinawan people. (Abridged)