Kishida visit didn’t help Okinawa

Regarding the article “Kishida tells Onaga he will help Okinawa reel in foreign tourists” in the Feb. 27 edition, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida deflected from the real issue Okinawa wanted to hear about during his visit.

Kishida visited Okinawa primarily to participate in a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the opening in Naha of a branch office of his ministry. This office, whose head is called ambassador plenipotentiary to Okinawa, is supposed to settle various issues Okinawa faces vis-a-vis the U.S. bases, working as an intermediary between Okinawa and Washington. This is a very strange arrangement, because Okinawa is putatively treated like a pitiful autonomy suffering under a foreign military presence.

Isn’t Tokyo cognizant of the fact that Okinawa’s predicament derives in part from its mistaken policy and, above all, its attempt during World War II to delay the inevitable invasion of mainland Japan by using Okinawa as a shield and a sacrificed piece?

There’s another well-known and yet weird office in Okinawa called the Okinawa Defense Bureau, formerly a branch of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency that was originally established to help the U.S. forces operate easily in Japan, for example by acquiring land and facilities for them to use. The Henoko relocation issue naturally falls within the jurisdiction of this office.

There must then be conflicts of aims and actions between the two bodies because the one is responsible for eliminating Okinawa’s excessive base-hosting burden while the other is tasked with helping implement Washington’s policy to maintain and often intensify the function of its military in Japan, particularly in Okinawa. However, since there doesn’t seem any such conflict between them, I must say they are all part of the same gang — colluding with each other to perpetuate the U.S. military footprint here, thus making Okinawa America’s permanent fortress and military colony.

Yoshio Shimoji
NAHA, OKINAWA PREFECTURE

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.