We demand Abe administration listen to the unequivocal Okinawa’s voice and stop drilling immediately
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
March 25, 2015
Okinawa Governor ONAGA Takeshi called a news conference on March 23 to announce that he had instructed the Okinawa defense bureau (of the Defense Ministry) to suspend within a week work related to the construction of a new U.S. Marine Corps base off the coast of the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa. He said he would revoke its drilling permit if the defense bureau fails to comply with the instruction. Okinawa Prefecture is calm in taking the appropriate step since the suspension would be imposed for the purpose of finding whether the underwater boring survey damaged coral reefs when concrete blocks were laid.
But the Abe administration has rejected Okinawa’s request by stating that “Japan is a law-governed nation” and that “the illegality (of Okinawa’s move) is grave, clear, and invalid” (Chief Cabinet Secretary SUGA Yoshihide at a news conference on March 23). Suga said that the underwater boring survey off Henoko is carried out steadily. In addition, the Okinawa Defense Bureau on March 24 requested the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for an administrative review and filed complaint against the governor’s measure. All this shows the administration is expressing its intention to do everything to make the governor’s instruction invalid.
The complaint has been filed against governor’s instruction of suspension despite the ambiguity of its legal binding power. In addition, a strong question remains: whether an administration office’s request is legally effective or not. The Abe administration’s response must be strongly criticized as an unjustifiable step taken apparently in a rush to counter opposition raised from all sections of Okinawa
The recent parliamentary discussions have revealed the fact that the construction of a new U.S. base off the coast of the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa, has nothing to do with the effort to reduce Okinawans’ burden of US bases and that the new base is designed to play the roles of a U.S. Marine Corps base equipped with state-of-the-art functions, which do not exist in the present U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, serving as a military port and a huge stepping-stone. All this gives the movement to oppose the base construction legitimacy.
In addition, it is necessary to recognize that the steps being taken by Governor Onaga have been very calm, as he began with an underwater survey on damage to coral reefs and is trying to establish the fact step by step.
The National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) urges the Abe administration to accept in earnest the instruction (request) of the Okinawa governor, to suspend base relocation (construction)-related work immediately, and to meet with Okinawan officials to discuss the matter in earnest.
At the same time, we request the government to carry out exhaustive discussion by making public the details of the new U.S. base construction, to recognize Okinawans’ will as expressed in four elections last year, to halt all moves to reinforce the U.S. bases and to gracefully give up the plan to construct the new U.S. Marine Corps base off Henoko.
Zenroren continues to support All-Okinawa’s struggle and work to further increase nationwide support.