Monday, May 24, 2010

Hatoyama apologizes again • Islanders stay firm for democracy & peace • Is the PM betraying himself & constituents in Japan, as well as Okinawans?

900 riot police (who actually appeared sympathetic to their compatriots) were sent to suppress 400 demonstrators during Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa. He apologized again.

But Okinawans, insistent upon democracy and peace for their island, did not accept his apologies nor his proposal.

The Okinawa Dugong blog has short videos of the protest, photos and translations from the Okinawa Times:
"The Prime Minister does not see us as human beings”

Some quotes from the Okinawa Times, May 23, 2010 (news flash)

Prime Minister Hatoyama is visiting Okinawa again on May 23rd. Hatoyama said “Relocation site is within Okinawa. We concluded that we need to relocate it near Henoko, Nago City.”

He withdrew what he said before the 2009 election, “Relocate Futenma outside of Okinawa or outside of Japan,” and said “Relocating Futenma outside of Okinawa or outside of Japan will drastically decrease the function of Marine Corps. I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for causing confusion for the people of Okinawa.”

Governor Nakaima pointed out that,“There is a huge gap between the feeling of Okinawans and the government idea.”

The Prefectural People’s Committee against the Relocation of Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture organized rally was held from 9 am on May 23rd. Aout 400 people attended. They hold yellow signs saying, “ANGER.”

A lady from Okinawa City attending the rally said “Everyday my life is trampled by the roar of military aircraft. I thought the base will be relocated outside of Okinawa. The Prime Minister does not see us as human beings. I cannot endure this anger.”
The US military claims it's protecting Okinawa by destroying land, ocean, the federally protected dugong and other endangered species to build this military base.

Can't the U.S. government see that Okinawa's vibrant democracy is, in itself, the best "defense" against any anti-democratic, anti-peaceful forces in the region.

Can't the U.S. government see that its military is the historical and imminent destructive force in this picture?

Hatoyama's latest has been called a "betrayal" of Okinawa. But the prime minister never had any faith in the 2006 Bush-Koizumi proposal. His reluctant attitude during his Okinawa visit was reminiscent of the sad-faced Vichy police chief in Casablanca straddling the fence between conscience and expediency. Was Hatoyama's choice ultimately a betrayal of himself, his political party, and his constituents in Japan, of nature itself, of the ideals of democracy and peace, as well?

By not holding firm with the U.S. (it can be done--Israel and European countries have done so and survived)--was Hatoyama not also betraying the American people by not further challenging its ally's insistence on a plan that springs from the kind of governmental impulse that historian Barbara Tuchman describes as coming "from the compelling lure of dominion, from pretensions of grandeur, from greed."

In The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, a study of the recurring pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, Tuchman advises political decision-makers to act with integrity:
Persistence in error is the problem. Practitioners of government continue down the wrong road as if in thrall to some Merlin with magic power to direct their steps...

Rulers will justify a bad or wrong decision on the ground..."He had no choice"...

But there is always freedom of choice to change or desist from a counter-productive course if the policy-maker has the moral courage to exercise it...

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