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2011年12月 1日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 30
EDITORIAL: Rape remark could spell end to Futenma plan

It was about the most unconscionable slur anyone could have directed at women and the people of Okinawa.

Discussing the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Satoshi Tanaka, director-general of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, said to the effect on Nov. 28, "Would you say, 'I will rape you,' before you rape someone?"

Tanaka used the rape analogy to explain the government's reluctance to set the submission date of an assessment report on the environmental impact of the air station's planned relocation to the Henoko district in Nago--a plan the people of Okinawa vehemently oppose.

Tanaka was reportedly holding court with members of the press at a pub in Naha when he made that comment.  那覇市の居酒屋で県内の報道関係者と懇談し、酒を飲んでいた。

He was drinking, and the session was supposed to be off the record, which must have loosened his tongue.

But an Okinawan newspaper went ahead and reported his gaffe.

The Asahi Shimbun did not have any of its reporters at the pub when he made the outrageous remark, but the paper ran its own version of the story after establishing the veracity of the original report.

What Tanaka said should never be condoned.

In fact, it was the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by U.S. soldiers 16 years ago that triggered the move to relocate the Futenma base.

But the girl was certainly not the last victim of sex crimes by U.S. service personnel.

Anyone who has any understanding of the feelings of the people of Okinawa would never even dream of saying what Tanaka said.

He was totally unqualified for the job, and of course he had to go.

The Yoshihiko Noda administration has at least shown its readiness to gradually lighten Okinawa's base burden.  野田政権は、沖縄の基地負担を軽減する具体策を少しずつ積み上げてきた。

For instance, drills at the Kadena Air Base will be partially moved to Guam, and the Status of Forces Agreement will be reviewed to allow Japanese courts to try civilians in the employ of the U.S. military for crimes they commit while on duty.

These measures are nowhere near adequate, of course, and they may well represent nothing more than the administration's ploy to defuse opposition to Futenma's move to Henoko.

Still, Okinawans might have taken these moves as Tokyo's attempt to restore trust.

But these efforts have gone down the drain now.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said of Tanaka's gaffe, "I refuse to make any comment on his remarks that are grossly offensive to decency."

We are sure this is how many Okinawans feel.

For all this mess, however, the government is reportedly set on going ahead with the final environmental assessment procedures before the end of this year.

Earlier this month, the Okinawa prefectural assembly unanimously adopted a statement demanding that the government abandon the submission of an environmental assessment report.

Now that Tanaka has vastly compounded the problem, it must be all too obvious that the assessment cannot possibly proceed as planned.

We have repeatedly argued that the planned relocation to Henoko is no longer viable, and that Tokyo and Washington must seek a new solution.

It appears that the mess caused by Tanaka spells the end of the Henoko plan.

The government must stop and think.

Should the government go ahead with the environmental assessment as if nothing has happened, it would be tantamount to accepting Tanaka's slur.

The government must not repeat the same mistake.


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