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2010年5月25日 (火)

社説:首相辺野古明言 沖縄の反発強める愚策

(Mainichi Japan) May 24, 2010
Decision to relocate Futenma base within Okinawa may spark more gov't turmoil
社説:首相辺野古明言 沖縄の反発強める愚策

The government's decision to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture could trigger further turmoil in the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Even if the government returns to the original plan, which appears almost infeasible and without rational reasons, it will never lead to a solution.

Hatoyama visited Okinawa on Sunday, and met with the heads of local governments concerned, including Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima and Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago that the national government has asked to host a substitute facility for Futenma base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture. In his meetings, Hatoyama for the first time identified the site for a substitute facility as an area around the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

In his talks with Nakaima, the prime minister apologized for being unable to keep his pledge to move the base out of the prefecture, and told the governor that there is no choice but to build a substitute facility around Henoko.
"We have no choice but to ask the community around Henoko to host the base. I've made the heartbreaking decision," Hatoyama was quoted as telling Nakaima. In return, Hatoyama offered to take measures to reduce Okinawa's burden of hosting a large portion of U.S. forces in Japan by shifting many of their training sites out of the prefecture.

In response, Nakaima told Hatoyama that it is difficult for the local community to accept the relocation plan. "It's extremely regrettable. There is an extremely wide gap between the decision and prefectural residents' earnest calls for relocation out of the prefecture and out of the country."

Mayor Inamine flatly rejected the relocation plan. "It's extremely regrettable, and I can't help but express anger at the decision. The plan is almost infeasible," he said.

On Saturday, Tokyo and Washington had reached a basic agreement to build a runway off U.S. forces' Camp Schwab in Henoko while considering moving some of the Futenma base's functions out of the prefecture.

The relocation site is almost the same as the one proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led previous administration. A decision on other matters related to the relocation has been postponed.

In other words, Prime Minister Hatoyama's declaration that his administration would settle the Futenma relocation issue by the end of May after reaching an agreement with Washington and the ruling coalition parties has turned out to be an empty promise. The settlement of the Futenma issue will be indefinitely postponed without any prospects for a solution.

"The decision has triggered a sense of disappointment (among prefectural residents) at being betrayed," Gov. Nakaima told reporters after meeting with the prime minister. There is absolutely no chance that Okinawa will accept the prime minister's request.

Moreover, the governor expressed displeasure at the central government informing Okinawa of the decision only after reaching agreement on it with the U.S. government. His complaint is fair enough. In the eyes of Okinawa residents, Hatoyama appeared to be a mere messenger who visited the prefecture to notify them of the inter-governmental accord.

More than a decade has passed since the Futenma relocation issue emerged. Efforts to settle the issue have been prolonged because it is difficult to win consent from any local community that is asked to host a substitute facility. If the Hatoyama administration ignores this lesson learned from its confusion over the issue and tries to force a base on Henoko, there will be no prospects for finding a solution.

Prime Minister Hatoyama announced the decision on Sunday in an apparent bid to make it look as if he kept his pledge to settle the issue by the end of May. However, he should be aware that the worst-case scenario of continued use of Futenma base is becoming increasingly realistic.

毎日新聞 2010年5月24日 2時31分


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