In the closely watched mayoral election in Ginowan city, which hosts the controversial US Marines Futenma Air Base, conservative incumbent Atsushi Sakima won reelection to a second term. Mayor Sakima faced a stiff challenge from Keiichiro Shimura, who had the backing of Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and the “All Okinawa” forces opposing construction of the US Marines airbase at Henoko beach.
When Ross Caputi was sent to fight in the Second Battle of Fallujah, Iraq, with the US Marines in 2004, he believed unquestioningly in the mission that he was told his unit was fighting for: liberation and justice for the Iraqi people.
On November 16, a new governor was elected in Okinawa, Japan, pledging to take on the governments of both Japan and the United States to stop the construction of a controversial US Marine airbase in his prefecture.
The people of Okinawa vote unmistakably to end the plan to build a new US Marine airbase at Henoko beach with the election of Governor Takeshi Onaga. Signs are few, however, that the governments in Tokyo or Washington are prepared to listen.
Inamine reflects on US military bases, economic development, and the state of democracy in Okinawa.
The various dramas occurring today near Henoko beach, Okinawa, and the city of Ferguson, Missouri, undoubtedly have many points of difference, but it is worth reflecting briefly on some issues that unite these two cases.
Michael Penn urges Tokyo and Washington to respect the will of the Okinawan voter.
Former Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha says anti-base sentiment in Okinawa remains the consensus.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s decision to approve construction of the planned US Marine air base at Henoko has won its fair share of admirers. Much of the international media has portrayed it as a “breakthrough” that resolves a long political “stalemate” that had plagued US-Japan relations for many years.
The determination of the leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party to get tough on the Henoko base construction issue is becoming apparent to close observers. It has long been a question whether or not Tokyo was really willing to repress the popular will in Okinawa, which clearly opposes the construction of a new US Marine base, but the message is now coming through more openly: Let Okinawan opinions be damned! The base will be built!