September 23, 2011
Akahata editorial (excerpts)
Prime Minster Noda Yoshihiko on September 21 held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the U.N. Headquarters in New York and stated that Japan will further “deepen and develop” its alliance with the United States.
Noda promised “to proceed according to the Japan-U.S. agreement” with the plan to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa as an alternative to the U.S. Futenma Air Station.
President Obama in reply told Noda that results are needed and that he looks for progress.
During the talks, the two heads of state also discussed such issues as Japan’s participation in free trade negotiations and an increase in U.S. beef exports to Japan. The Japanese prime minister promised his counterpart that a decision will be made at the earliest possible date whether Japan will take part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
Although Noda was pressed hard by Obama for results, Noda said to reporters after the talks, “It has been a good start in building a relationship based on trust.”
Since the 1996 Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement, Okinawans have been opposed to the plan to relocate the Futenma base within Okinawa. They have, so far, prevented construction work for a new U.S. base to proceed, and the call for an unconditional closure and removal of the base has become the majority demand.
Around the same time as Noda’s visit to New York, Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu was in Washington D.C. The governor stated that no municipality in Okinawa would accept the relocation. If the two governments are again to impose another military base on Okinawa, it would be done by the use of “bayonets and bulldozers” just like when the Futenma base was built by “bayonets and bulldozers” at the end of the war, the governor said.
In contrast, Prime Minister Noda, rather than changing his submissive attitude towards the United States, showed his readiness to ease the dissatisfaction voiced by Obama who is frustrated by the delay in the implementation of the Japan-U.S. agreement.
Noda should have stated that no municipality anywhere in Japan would be willing to host a new U.S. base.