We Are All Greeks Now
Speaking of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga is the name to remember.
Ryukyu Shimpo: Okinawa Governor conveys his opposition to new US base
January 15, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 14, after cabinet approved the fiscal 2015 promotional budget for Okinawa, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga visited the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office. At his meeting with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, the governor conveyed his opposition to the government’s plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futema in Ginowan to Henoko, Nago, and said he sought to relocate it to outside of Okinawa. However, his plan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secreatary Yoshihide Suga, who is responsible for reducing Okinawa’s base burden, was not realized this time.
The governor reported from the meeting that he sought the government official’s understanding of the gubernatorial election outcome, and pledged to block new base construction in Henoko and move the Futenma base to other prefectures or abroad. He told him it was unreasonable for Okinawa to host 74 percent of Japan’s U.S. military exclusive-use facilities when the island is only 0.6 percent of Japan’s land area, now that 69 years have passed since the end of World War II.
The deputy chief cabinet secretary said he would exchange opinions with the governor on how to reduce the base burden.
At his meeting with Yohei Matsumoto, parliamentary vice-minister at the Cabinet Office, the governor showed his appreciation that a certain amount of the Okinawa promotion budget had been ensured.
The governor said, referring to the Okinawa promotion budget reduction, “A required amount was reserved. However, it went up last year.” He showed his willingness to meet with Prime Minister Abe and Chief Cabinet Secreatary Suga, saying it is important to convey what we think to each other.
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- Okinawa Governor and Mayors ask Prime Minister for more information on return of U.S. bases
- Okinawa Governor calls for Futenma base to stop operating within 5 years
- [Editorial]Abe administration must meet anti-U.S base governor Onaga
- Prime Minister does not accept Okinawa Governor’s request for withdrawal of Osprey aircraft
- Okinawa governor asks Japanese government to cancel plan to deploy more Osprey to Okinawa
Japan has always had the disadvantage of not really having any good models to follow. Historically, this country has had leaders that had few clever ideas of their own (while the people here generally did amazingly well in that department) and never really managed to stay ahead of the curve for very long. Most people outside of Japan probably cannot name a single Japanese prime minister, not even in recent history. I'd like to hope that we can all agree to elect leaders with a greater sense of responsibility.
Which seems to be the case in Greece, recently.
The Automatic Earth blog: The Greek Issue Just Got Personal
It was already present over the past two weeks, for example in Yanis Varoufakis’ meetings with Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and German FinMin Schäuble, awkwardly obvious in facial expressions and body language. A touch of personal discomfort. A touch of a threat that required chest-thumping and hubris to be brushed off. ‘You better do what we say or else’. Back then, perhaps it was still experienced from a political, deal-making, perspective. But in the course of yesterday it became clear something has changed.
It has become personal, you could feel it in the air, and that raises the danger level considerably. It’s not personal from the Greek side; Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis merely act according to – their interpretation of – the mandate handed them by their voters. It’s the other side(s) that have started making it personal. They see themselves, their positions, as being under attack. And they blame Greece’s new Syriza government for that. Which may seem logical at first blush, but that doesn’t make it true. The people sitting on the other side from Varoufakis have dug themselves into these positions.
Which, as they rightfully fear, are now threatened. Not because Syriza means to do so, but because they come to the table with that mandate, to put an end to what has caused Greece to sink as deep as it has. There’s nothing personal about that, it’s democracy at work, it’s politics. Still, it’s perceived as personal, because it makes the ‘old’ leadership uncomfortable. They haven’t seen it coming, they were convinced, all the way, that they would prevail. They mostly still are, but in a now much more nervous fashion.
Japan also has this huge issue of debt, and nobody likes to talk about it. We are told that since it is mostly held within the country, we are not to worry. Southern Europe, however, thought the EU was "within" as well, but that is now being tested. How does the more economically favoured North respond when a crisis like this emerges in the South? Again, the challenge is a democratic one. Greece voted for a very reasonable bunch of people, this time. How about next election?
The hopes we all had back in 2009 or so when LDP got booted out, came to naught. Japan wasn't ready for a transition. Then the March 11, 2011 disaster struck, and - LDP got back into government. But we are all Greeks now. We are stuck with huge debt, and three nuclear reactors in core meltdown which will take billions of Yen to deal with, and a crisis in Okinawa over the US bases there, and "the old leadership uncomfortable."
February 10, 2015: Outside the gate of the US Marine Corp’s Camp Schwab at Henoko in northern Okinawa a sign announced that this was the 220th day of the sit-in there. Next to it stood an elderly man holding a flag bearing the words, DO NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST OKINAWANS. He told me he had not been given it by any organisation, but had had it made with his own money. “This is it”, he said to me urgently. “This is the issue!”
His flag symbolises the sea change which the Okinawan anti-base movement has undergone in the last fifteen years or so, a change in thinking that has led to a major political realignment, which in turn has affected the shape of the increasingly desperate political confrontation taking place there now.
And, as far as I am concerned, that goes for both Hatoyama, and Abe.
If we cannot elect better leaders, to take us out of the great mess we are in, well, then what...?