Okinawa activists protest base lease bill

Following the Diet’s passage Friday of a controversial bill designed to allow the central government to legally renew Okinawan land leases for U.S. military forces, several Okinawan lawmakers and grassroots activists protested what they claim is a “violation of Okinawans’ human rights.”

“It’s inexcusable that all the conservative parties are exploiting Okinawa, to seek a conservative-conservative coalition, Upper House member Soko Shimabukuro, of Okinawa Prefecture, said.

“The (prospective) amendment (to the exclusive land law for the U.S. bases) violates the pacifist Constitution that Okinawans have aspired to follow before and since their homeland was returned to mainland Japan 25 years ago,” the Social Democratic Party member said.

Another Upper House and SDP member, Kantoku Teruya, who considers himself an “antiwar” Okinawan landowner, said an overwhelming majority of his compatriots cannot consent to the proposed amendment because the Diet never exercised thorough deliberation on such an important bill.

Some members of the Society of Volunteers for the Importance of Okinawa urged Hashimoto to immediately visit the prefecture to clearly explain to local residents what exactly is going on with his government.

Noted critic Makoto Sataka questioned whether the Diet members who supported the bill can call themselves patriots since “all they care about is the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and what the United States says.”

Author Yasuo Tanaka said it’s ironic that the proclaimed democratic government of Japan is now denying Okinawans their properties while the Social Democratic and Japanese Communist parties are protesting the movement.