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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 21 - 27  > Governor Tamaki continues his efforts to get Okinawa’s base burden issue discussed nationally
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2019 August 21 - 27 [POLITICS]

Governor Tamaki continues his efforts to get Okinawa’s base burden issue discussed nationally

August 21, 2019

Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny, since his victory in the 2018 September gubernatorial election following the death of former Governor Onaga Takeshi, has been putting forth efforts to increase awareness among people in other prefectures of the extent of U.S. base burdens imposed on the prefecture. As part of his efforts, Tamaki early this year launched a national public awareness project. Akahata on August 21 carried an interview with Governor Tamaki about the project.

Explaining the aim of the project, Governor Tamaki in the Akahata interview said that he hopes that with the project, people outside Okinawa, as sovereign citizens, will recognize that Okinawa’s base issues, especially the issues regarding a new U.S. base in Henoko, the U.S. Futenma base, and the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, are of relevance to them. He added that another aim is to create an atmosphere among the general public to want to work together solve the issues.

Tamaki pointed out that when issues related to national security and the SOFA are brought up as a topic, many people tend to think that such issues are essentially dealt with by experts in foreign and defense policies and have nothing to do with them. The governor said that however, these issues have a direct link with people’s daily lives and properties. “All Japanese should be interested parties,” he added.

Specifically, Tamaki emphasized SOFA-related problems and the Henoko base project.

Regarding the SOFA-related problems, the governor said that under the bilateral military agreement, wherever a U.S. military aircraft causes an accident in Japan, the U.S. military will cordon off the accident site and not allow even the landowner to enter the site. He went on to say that the SOFA enables the U.S. military to control a massive amount of airspace over Tokyo and surrounding prefectures which is known as the “Yokota Rapcon airspace”. As for the Henoko base project, Tamaki said that the Abe government intends to pour 2.55 trillion yen into the dead-end project, ten times more than the initial cost estimate, according to the prefectural government’s calculations.

Governor Tamaki pointed out that his predecessor Onaga, based on his respect for democracy and local autonomy, dedicated his life to oppose the construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, and his opposition had attracted much attention nationwide. Tamaki said that even after Onaga’s death in August 2018, as mirrored in the September 2018 gubernatorial election as well as in the prefectural referendum and the House of Representatives by-election this year, increasing attention has been given to Okinawa’s anti-base movement. “Under this circumstance, in the July Upper House election, opposition parties united to win the cancellation of the Henoko base project, which has a special significance,” Tamaki said.

In conclusion, Tamaki talked about his idea of having Okinawa contribute to promoting peaceful relations worldwide through the prefecture’s peace building efforts and exchange programs in the field of business, culture, and sports.
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