YOKKAICHI, Mie Pref. – Questions about whether U.S. President Barack Obama should apologize over the alleged brutal murder of an Okinawa woman by an American base worker were raised Tuesday on the final day of the Citizens’ Ise Shima Summit in Mie Prefecture.
Speaking on a global peace and security panel, former Lower House member Ryoichi Hattori of the Social Democratic Party said: “We have to think about how to revise the U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (to give Japan more legal authority). And a lot of attention will be on whether Obama will apologize to (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe.”
Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old former U.S. Marine working at Kadena Air Base, has admitted murdering 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro and dumping her body, according to police.
The issue has inflamed anger in Okinawa over the presence of U.S. bases just ahead of Obama’s visit to the Ise-Shima area in Mie Prefecture for the Group of Seven leaders’ summit and to Hiroshima on Friday.
As Hattori indicated, how Obama and Abe respond to the incident is expected to be closely monitored by peace and anti-base activists in Okinawa. The two leaders are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.
More generally, there were calls at the Citizens’ Ise Shima Summit for the international community to pressure the G-7 leaders to adopt the idea of peace as a human right.
“In 2004, Spain launched an international campaign for the right to peace. In 2012, a committee of the U.N. Human Rights Council created a draft declaration of the right to peace,” said Shigeaki Iijima, a professor of constitutional law at Nagoya Gakuin University.
“Since then, the proposal has been opposed by many G-7 members, including the United States, the European Union and Japan,” he added.
The two-day meeting of Japanese and international nongovernmental organizations covered issues ranging from how to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis to the kinds of policies needed to achieve the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that were agreed to at the U.N. General Assembly last year.
It ended with a general agreement for increased civic collaboration.
But a group of NGOs and others in the Kansai and Chubu areas issued a statement last month calling for a stronger civil society in Japan to address not only broad problems but also to counter Abe’s policies on issues such as the state secrets law, which came into effect in late 2014.
“We feel that participation and information disclosure in governmental decision-making is gradually being oppressed under the present Abe regime,” the group’s English-language statement read.
“The activities of daily living, such as learning about politics and policies, free thinking, discussions and proposing (one’s) ideas are being undermined. Visible and invisible pressure is being put on the mass media, and information about diplomacy, commerce, security, etc., which should be open to the public, is kept secret.
“We need to create a Japanese society that can contribute to local and global problem-solving by forming an ‘elastically strong’ civil society which enhances democracy in Japan or this summit could be the last one held in this country.”
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.