Japan government should listen to Okinawans after 72 percent reject US military base move

Japan government should listen to Okinawans after 72 percent reject US base move

Sawako Uchida and Chika Mori

Modern Tokyo Times

The central government of Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must listen to the people of Okinawa. If not, then resentment will further grow because it is overwhelmingly clear that the majority oppose the relocation of a United States military base.

In a referendum that took place yesterday, roughly 72 percent of people on the island of Okinawa opposed the relocation of the proposed military base. This isn’t surprising because the burden on Okinawa is enormous – compared with mainland Japan. Therefore, successive governments, and not just the current Abe government, have betrayed the people of Okinawa and made it hard for America.

The Straits Times reports, “The Henoko relocation plan has been on the table since April 1996, and in its stalling tactics, Okinawa wants to force Tokyo’s hand to agree to move the base out of the prefecture altogether.”

Hence, despite the vote being essentially symbolic, it does provide the opportunity legally for the Governor of Okinawa to raise the issue with Abe and the administration of President Donald Trump. This is based on a threshold being obtained in relation to the referendum that binds a political ordinance on the island of Okinawa.

Lee Jay Walker, at Modern Tokyo Times, says, “Despite the geopolitical importance of Okinawa to the military defense of Japan, it is abundantly clear that successive governments have made matters worse. This relates to putting an enormous burden on the people of Okinawa. After all, it is morally unjustifiable to have approximately 70 percent of all US military base areas in a prefecture that accounts for roughly 0.6 percent of the landmass of Japan. Therefore, this reality – and the destruction of Okinawan culture in past Japanese history – is stirring up anger based on the arrogance of successive governments who are treating the people of Okinawa unjustly.”

It remains to be seen if the government of Abe will listen to the people of Okinawa. After all, with the main political opposition in Japan being extremely weak and with Abe seeking to cement ties with Trump, then the current leader of Japan may ignore the wishes of the people of Okinawa.

If so, then expect more demonstrations in Okinawa and further distrust toward the central government of Japan.



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