(社説)復帰の日 沖縄を孤立させぬ覚悟

--The Asahi Shimbun, May 16
EDITORIAL: 43 years on, Okinawa still forced to serve mainland's interest
(社説)復帰の日 沖縄を孤立させぬ覚悟

May 15 marked the anniversary of Okinawa’s return to Japan 43 years ago. Never has the anniversary arrived amid such acute tension between Okinawa Prefecture and the central government.

Flying in the face of strong opposition from many people in Okinawa, the Abe administration is forging ahead with preparations for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the crowded city of Ginowan to the Henoko area of Nago, another city in the island prefecture.

The government and Japan’s mainlanders should heed the voices of Okinawa, which has been pivotal to the support of national security since the end of World War II in 1945 by bearing the heavy burden of hosting the vast bulk of U.S. military bases in this country. The Japanese people should not allow Okinawa to become isolated.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, met separately with Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga in April and May for the first time since Onaga came to office in December. The three top government officials refused to hold talks with Onaga until then.

Onaga’s remarks about Okinawa’s postwar history made in those meetings underscored Okinawa’s determination to reject the Futenma relocation plan.

Onaga talked about how the U.S. military, when it governed Okinawa before its reversion to Japan, seized local people’s land forcibly to build bases by using “bayonets and bulldozers.”

The Okinawa governor also spoke about Paul Caraway, the high commissioner of the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands during the early 1960s, who once declared that Okinawan self-government is nothing but a legend.

Onaga also referred to the 1956 U.S. attempt for an effective blanket purchase of the local land leased for bases, made in line with what is known as the “Price Recommendations” by Rep. Melvin Price, who chaired a special subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee.

Onaga’s words awakened bitter memories about these historical facts that still linger in the minds of the people in Okinawa and highlighted parallels between these incidents and the Abe administration’s approach to the Futenma issue.

Onaga’s remarks expressed anger about how the central government has continued to ignore Okinawa’s determined opposition to the base relocation plan, which was made clear in three elections last year--the Nago mayoral election, the gubernatorial poll and the Lower House election. They also indicated that Okinawa’s actions against the administration’s efforts to carry out the plan are similar in nature to Okinawa’s fight for the right of self-government under U.S. military rule.

In his meeting with Nakatani, Onaga recounted an episode about his discussions on the issue with an Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party two years ago when he was the mayor of Naha. Onaga severely criticized the mainland’s mind-set by telling Nakatani that the LDP politician said Okinawa should accept the new base because the mainland refused to accept it. The LDP lawmaker also said to Onaga, “Let us stop futile discussions.”

It is notable that the series of meetings between Onaga and the top administration officials have aroused sympathy for Okinawa among the Japanese public.

In a clutch of opinion polls recently conducted by The Asahi Shimbun and other media, more respondents than before expressed critical views about the administration’s stance toward the issue.

The mainland public’s interest in the problem appears to be growing, as indicated by internationally acclaimed animation director Hayao Miyazaki’s decision to co-head a fund set up by prefectural assembly members and local businesses to protest the plan to move the air base to Henoko.

Onaga plans to make his case to a broad international audience, including the U.S. government.

Okinawa’s wish to be treated equally as the mainland has been consistently denied, even after its return to Japan.

Chobyo Yara, the last chief executive of the government of the Ryukyu Islands under U.S. administration and the first governor of the prefecture after the return of Okinawa, once said. “Okinawa must not be victimized again as a means of the state.”

One serious question Japanese mainlanders should ask themselves now is whether they are again trying to victimize Okinawa for the mainland’s interests.


中国の軍事開発 地域の安定脅かす「砂の長城」

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China jeopardizes regional stability by building ‘Great Wall of sand’
中国の軍事開発 地域の安定脅かす「砂の長城」

China is accelerating its land reclamation in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a move that is jeopardizing the stability of the region.

The U.S. Defense Department’s recently released annual report on China’s military strength mentioned for the first time that country’s reclamation of land in the South China Sea, which has been described as the building of “a Great Wall of sand.” The report expressed concern that the reclaimed land around rocks and reefs in the waters would create “persistent civil-military bases of operation.”

As of late last year, China had already begun constructing harbors, communication facilities and an airfield at four of the five reclaimed outposts in the Spratly Islands.

A Pentagon official said the total acreage of the reclaimed area had grown to about eight square kilometers, quadrupling in size over about four months.

China is reclaiming land at an extraordinarily fast pace. It is clearly trying to create a fait accompli by unilaterally expanding its control over territories disputed with such neighboring countries as the Philippines.

It is quite reasonable that the report criticizes China’s “willingness to tolerate a higher level of regional tension” to advance its interests.

China defends its move to reclaim land in the disputed waters as intended to safeguard its territorial sovereignty, but this claim is excessively self-serving. It is commonly recognized among countries concerned that China’s territorial claims — which assert that its sovereignty covers almost all the area in the South China Sea — have no basis under international law.

The prevailing view is that China’s reclamation in the area is part of its preparations for establishing an air-defense identification zone over the South China Sea and securing air supremacy.

Cyberwar capabilities

The report also said it is likely that China’s nuclear submarine, carrying ballistic missiles, will begin its first patrols for nuclear deterrent purposes this year.

It is noteworthy that the report expressed strong alarm over the rapid modernization of China’s military forces, saying “it could potentially reduce the U.S. forces’ core technological advantage.”

In the field of space, in particular, the report said China possesses “the most rapidly maturing space program in the world” and that the country continues to develop capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by its adversaries.

Regarding cyberspace, the report expresses a sense of danger over China’s strengthening of its capabilities to destroy computer networks, as part of its “anti-access and area denial (A2/AD)” strategy to prevent the intervention of U.S. forces in the event of a contingency.

Close attention must be paid to any progress in China’s military technologies in these newly emerging domains.

Worrisome for Japan is the buildup of equipment for the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force.

The report said it was likely that in the next 15 years, China will build multiple domestically produced aircraft carriers and procure Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35s, one of the most advanced fighters in the world. It also said China will likely make progress in the development of stealth strike aircraft in that period.

Japan and the United States must boost the joint response capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, based on recently agreed-upon guidelines on bilateral defense cooperation, and enhance their deterrent against China.

It is also important to cooperate with countries concerned to heighten vigilance and surveillance activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and urge China to refrain from taking any provocative military action.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2015)