‘The winner behind the scene is the Abe government, while the loser behind the scene is democracy of the country’, informed the Okinawa Times on February 5, referring to the results of the mayoral election held the previous day. The article was written by the newspaper’s reporter Abe Takashi. We must sincerely contemplate the point he indicated.
WINNER AND LOSER BEHIND THE SCENE
Residents Cordially Sent Off Ex-Mayor
Former Mayor Inamine Susumu was relieved from his tenure on February 7 when over 400 residents gathered in front of the City Office to cordially send him off. The scene impressed with a birth of independent inhabitants in a big number who feel responsible for autonomy.
The city government maintained its principle not to build a new US military base at Henoko during eight years of Mayor Inamine: it did not depend on subsidies granted in exchange of cooperation with the US military alignment program. Without the money the city government could work together with citizens for autonomous management to successfully provide all schools with air conditioning facilities and reinforce school buildings with earthquake-proof structures. Children of elementary schools and students of junior high schools can enjoy free-of-charge medical service.
The recent election was far from autonomy and democracy. Mr. Toguchi Taketoyo, the new mayor, did not refer at all to the crucial issue, construction of a new military base, and did not respond to demands for public debates during the election campaign.
Meanwhile an abnormal phenomenon was witnessed: the number of early votes occupied almost 60% of all the votes cast, which makes us question about the very foundation of election system which expresses free will of the electorate. It was the Abe government that challenged the administration of Mayor Inamine.
Subsidies Granted after Approval
If democracy works accurately, the construction job at Henoko would have stopped at the time of re-election of Mayor Inamine four years ago and subsequent election victory of Governor Onaga Takeshi. But the Abe government forced to continue the job, insisting it is the sole way of settlement. That has brought about protest actions, which the state’s government oppressed cruelly, employing troops of the Maritime Safety Agency and antiriot police from other prefectures to prevent activities.
The Abe government has piled up faits accomplis so that people should believe that they cannot overturn developments to surrender. It pledged to grant subsidies, including the suspended amount payable in the past years, with a condition that the city authority approves the US military alignment. Thus, intense autonomous efforts were destabilized by the state’s intervention accompanied by a variety of means so that people should give up resistance against the state’s policy.
However, the construction job at Henoko does not go smoothly. The progress made until today is just several percents of the entire task. The fact remains unchanged that the job is being done repeatedly in an illegal way. Violation of laws cannot enjoy exemption by the election result.
Vulnerability of the geological structure of Ryukyu limestone over the area to be reclaimed and a possibility of existence of active fault may lead to questioning the very landfill job.
Protest campaigns held in front of the gate of military base and on the sea have visually clarified facts on the construction jobs and controversies. At the same time the struggles have connected people living in Japan and the rest of the world with sympathy with Okinawa.
Protest movements staged in the western region of Japan where dirt is transported for landfill at Henoko, litigations presented by citizens inquiring legitimacy of dispatch of riot police from prefectures other than Okinawa to the sites, and civic movements against the TV program of Tokyo MX Channel broadcasting hate against Okinawa ? these are actions organized in the main islands of Japan. The movements share in common the people’s network conveyed from Henoko.
Gubernatorial Election in November
A governor’s election is scheduled in November when people of Okinawa will directly face the US-Japan military alliance. Constitution amendment drives waged by the Abe government link with military fortification of Okinawa.
Are we able to rebuild solidarity with Okinawa? A focal point lies in whether people’s movements in the main islands of the country could be organized solidly with wisdom and power.
February 20, 2018