Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Okinawa's Future: Democracy or Military Dictatorship?" Last Day of WaPo Okinawa ad on the Online Opinion Page

Okinawa's Future: Democracy or Military Dictatorship?

Today is the last day of the 3-day Okinawa ad at the online Washington Post's Opinion Page.  The ad was taken out by The Okinawa Protest Advertising Action, an Okinawan group that, like all of Okinawa's civil society and government, opposes the Jp-US governments' plan to forcibly landfill and construction of a US military training base at Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site—against the will of the Okinawan prefectural government and citizens. As Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga has explained clearly in the past month, the Okinawan government and people have never consented to any U.S. military bases on their lands.

Every village, town, and city in Okinawa is united in opposing the planned construction of a new U.S. military airbase. If the plan goes ahead, the coral reef and sea-grass ecosystems at Oura Bay, Henoko, will be sealed under 740 million cubic feet of landfill to make way for U.S. military runways. This act of environmental vandalism will destroy the habitat of countless endangered species, including one of the world’s most threatened marine mammals, the Okinawan dugong, a species which on paper, though not in reality, is protected by U.S. and Japanese law...

After 2 decades of resisting the Henoko plan, and what in any genuine democracy would be regarded as decisive elections held in 2014, the people of Okinawa made their views clear to Washington and Tokyo...

On April 29, PM Abe, in an address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, is expected to tell President Obama and the American people that base construction in Okinawa is going according to plan, and even that the project will strengthen U.S. -Jp bilateral relations.

Pragmatists as well as idealists within the U.S. admin would do well to question this version of events. Some 60 years ago, during another period of unrest in Okinawa known as the Island Wide Struggle, U.S. troops forcibly removed Okinawans from their land using bulldozers and bayonets. At the time, senior U.S. diplomats warned of Okinawa becoming ungovernable, and  the most heavy-handed tactics of the period were abandoned in favor of negotiation.

Attempting to impose a new base on Okinawa by force, which appears to be the only option currently being considered by U.S. & Jp officials, threatens to repeat the mistakes of that period, at the same time undermining Washington and Tokyo’s credibility as agents of democracy, freedom and human rights.
See the entire ad here:

No comments: