politics

Hayashi countermands Okinawa governor's halt order on base work

38 Comments

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Monday countermanded an order by Okinawa Gov Takeshi Onaga to suspend all work in the area where a key U.S. military air base is to be relocated, in a growing confrontation between the island and the central government.

Onaga ordered the suspension last Monday, saying that a concrete anchor thrown into the sea for a drilling survey at the site is believed have damaged coral. It was his first specific action to interfere with the relocation since taking office four months ago. His predecessor’s approval of the plan had allowed the Defense Bureau to begin preparing the site in Henoko for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Delaying construction work "risks great damage to diplomacy and defence policy by having a negative impact on the Japan-U.S. relationship, as well as affecting residents near Futenma" who put up with the risk of accidents and noise, Hayashi said in a statement.

Hayashi's decision came after he had examined the governor's order "from a fair and neutral position," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding the government thinks it is "extremely important" to reduce the risks posed by the Futenma base.

The ministry sent a formal notice to Onaga's office, informing him of the decision to override his ruling.

Onaga told a news conference last week that the use of concrete blocks had not been authorized. He said the prefecture needs to assess the damage, and demanded the Defense Bureau stop all activity related to the relocation within one week or lose its license for the drilling work, which could put the entire relocation on hold.

The underwater drilling, which had been halted before last November’s election in an apparent attempt by the central government to avoid controversy, resumed earlier this month to prepare for the land reclamation needed to build an airstrip over the water from Camp Schwab, another American military base.

© Japan Today/AFP/AP

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38 Comments
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What a tool

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The long Henoko work is delayed, the longer the US stays in Futenma, bottom line. The whiners can thank Onaga.

-7 ( +9 / -16 )

This just proves what I have been saying all along. This base will go ahead regardless of environmental, economical or societal impacts.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Okinawans just have to live with the fact that the US base will be there no matter what, short of a declaration on war and independance from Japan.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Is he still working as Minister of Agriculture?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Time for Okinawa to secede from Japan.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I can't see what this has to do with agriculture, forestry or fisheries.

Except for the damage the US bases are causing, by ruining the forests for target practice and helicopter training and loss of livelihood for the fishermen in the Oura Bay.

In fact, I would have thought that any Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries would be AGAINST the use of Japanese land, sea and forest by a foreign country for military bases.

What's going on?

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Time for Okinawa to secede from Japan.

Sure, if they can afford it.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

What a tool

Why? The Japanese government is not a federal government, Okinawa doesn‘t get to decide if the bases go anymore than Kanagawa does, and the Japanese government has an agreement with the US to uphold.

Okinawa can secede if they wish, but sometimes the devil we know is better than the one we don‘t.

What's going on?

The drilling was stopped for environmental reasons, so it makes sense for Hayashi to act.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

After all Hayashi is a Minister in Abe's Cabinet. What else did you expect?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

One way or the other, Okinawa is now paying the price for overstepping. So far, the National Government has been very patient - whatever you think of it this whole Henoko issue will be over a long time ago if the National Government used its brute fiat to push it through. So far, however, Tokyo has for its own reasons chosen to be nice and "respect" the autonomy of Okinawa.

Okinawa has allowed itself to forget that the national government has teeth.

Now that this precedent has been laid, Okinawa has just lost what bargaining power it had against the central government.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

You need to read the passage again

"The drilling was stopped for environmental reasons, so it makes sense for Hayashi to act."

The drilling was stopped for Political reason, nothing more

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What is the point of Okinawa being allowed to elect a governor if the wishes of the governor (and Onaga was elected because of his sentiments) are overruled and disregarded. Okinawa might as well be ruled directly from Tokyo if that is the case

7 ( +9 / -2 )

You need to read the passage again

No, I stand by my statement.

Onaga ordered the suspension last Monday, saying that a concrete anchor thrown into the sea for a drilling survey at the site is believed have damaged coral.

Of course there were political motives and on both sides, but the official reasoning for the halt were environmental concerns, so it would make sense for Hayashi to countermand.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This doesn't surprise me at all. The needs of the country outweigh the wants of the prefecture. Citizens (this is true everywhere, not just Okinawa) tend to have a myopic view of what's important. The NIMBY mentality is everywhere. "Being protected is important, but Not In My Backyard. Put it in someone else's backyard but make sure we're still protected!"

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Well, time for Okinawans to assess their forced colonial status forced upon them by Japan, which was infringing upon its own sovereignty. Even Imperial China did not want to invade Okinawa with military force. They were given the option of paying tribute as a vassal state. Now that China is an economic and military power, Okinawa could have s status like that of Hong Kong but with more "democratic" freedoms. The Japanese agreed let China get all the islands south of the main island of Okinawa in an agreement brokered by US president Ulysses S Grant. But it was just a lie and deception because they were just buying time to build its Navy. In fact I am convinced that even the US president was in collusion with Japan just to deceive China. And I am even convinced that they wanted to armed Japan so it could to its colonization because Japan was envious of the Western powers having colonies every where. And you can see that favoritism towards Japan when after WWI, colonies owned by Germany and Russia in Japan were awarded to Japan instead of returning them to China. Another proof of their favoritism to Japan was giving Saipan and Palau to Japan as trusted territories. World history is like a puzzle, and it is certainly not taught truly in history books.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Well, time for Okinawans to assess their forced colonial status forced upon them by Japan, which was infringing upon its own sovereignty. Even Imperial China did not want to invade Okinawa with military force.

Lol okay. okay. First of all imperial China does not exist anymore. Hasn‘t for a long time. The islands lay in a strategically important area for China and China has shown little respect for territorial boundaries. Again, I will say, ‘Okinawa can try seceding if they wish, but be careful what you ask for.‘

HK is hardly a democratic Eutopia, bad example.

What is the point of Okinawa being allowed to elect a governor if the wishes of the governor (and Onaga was elected because of his sentiments) are overruled and disregarded.

Japan is not America. All Japanese prefectures are heavily controlled at the national level.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Great input avigator. That was some deep insight.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Yoshimi OnishiMAR. 30, 2015 - 07:42PM JST After all Hayashi is a Minister in Abe's Cabinet. What else did you expect?

Every time Suga talks to explain or defend to Govt position some Govrt officials come out and speak to damage /suga's effort. Agricult Ministry should be quiet for this as it had a big scandal last year. Suga's effrot was damaged.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What has it got to do with Japan's fisheries minister? Slight, that's what. The governor, elected on an anti-base platform, has their, so the people's majority wish, thwarted by... the fisheries minister. It can't get much rude than that.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

UK9393,

Really?

If so, it is so unbelievably childish!

Why does Abe pout like a Junior High School girl and refuse to even meet with Onaga-san, the elected governor of Okinawa?

Surely they could sit down like adults and work this out.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@Bertie, rhetorical questions, always favorite.

Plus, I don't think you're being fair to junior high school girls.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

top Official Govt might like Futema moves out from Okinawa for saving annual payment to USA and saving relocation cost. but its junior Pminister is destroying money saving plan Onaga has. It is about time, Abe and LDP members meeto Onaga to discuss tax money saving Onaga;s plan/

Bertie, Jr HS children, You wrote as if boys are amarter than girls and Abe.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I get that you don't like U.S. military bases in Japan, however If they weren't there you would be "occupied" by China by now.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Okinawa belongs to the people of Okinawana, who, at present, overwhelmingly wish to remain as part of Japan.

It is not hight time for me or you decide.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What is the point of Okinawa being allowed to elect a governor if the wishes of the governor (and Onaga was elected because of his sentiments) are overruled and disregarded. Okinawa might as well be ruled directly from Tokyo if that is the case.

It's no different in the U.S. The governor of a state doesn't dictate to the Pentagon how many bases are located in his state. The governors of prefectures/states have NEVER had that ability.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Fadamor

It's no different in the U.S. The governor of a state doesn't dictate to the Pentagon how many bases are located in his state. The governors of prefectures/states have NEVER had that ability.

Exactly. This is a tough thing for the people of Okinawa. The island is very crowded in the lower portion with bases taking up a huge piece of real estate. But they provide some employment and local stimulus to the economy (I know, my rent was pure extortion) and protect Japan and Okinawa.

Should there be a reduction? Sure. Should the Okinawan government have followed through when this was agreed to in 1996? Sure. The local government has to stop the myopic view of only looking out for themselves, and not understanding the bigger game that China is currently playing. Ask Vietnam and the Philippines how those disputes are going?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@Brandon ShermanMAR. 31, 2015 - 12:30AM JST I get that you don't like U.S. military bases in Japan, however If they weren't there you would be "occupied" by China by now.

Oh, you like Uke foreign country bases in your country? Everywqhere in your country? China never mentioned to occupy their military bases in Japan. When they mentioned???

1 ( +3 / -2 )

patty cake championMAR. 30, 2015 - 07:33PM JST Time for Okinawa to secede from Japan.

Sure, if they can afford it.

that's what the AIIB is for! XD

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is indeed a laughable caricature of justice played by third-rate actors, who are all part of the same gang. Hayashi served as Minister of Defense under the Fukuda administration for a month. He now serves as Minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry under PM Abe. His countermanding of Gov. Onaga's halt order on drilling work off the Henoko coast must be seen from these perspectives

Why should he take the matters of defense and Japan-U.S. bilateral relations into consideration when he makes up his mind as the Minister of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry? Such decision must be made solely on the basis of how the sinking of 75 huge concrete blocks, each weighing up to 45 tons, and the seabed drilling will affect fishery and the ecosystem, including coral, in Oura Bay.

The government says the sinking of anchors onto the seabed to tether oil fence floats, the purpose of which is to fend off anti-base activists of course, was sanctioned by former Governor Nakaima and so they say there is no illegality involved in sinking these concrete blocks.

But, look, can these huge concrete blocks be called "anchors" in the ordinary sense of the word? Judging by their weights and sizes, they are not "anchors" but structures, the sinking of which must require a formal permissin by the Okinawa prefectural government, the administrator of coastal waters.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You can add Hayashi`s name to a long list of LDP politicians who will not be visiting Okinawa any time soon. It seems strange that the Japanese Govt. stopped the work back in Nov. of last year in order to give their boy Nakaima a chance at winning the election for Governor but cannot stop work to investigate allegations that the Defense Agency is in violation of the Landfill Agreement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lol okay. okay. First of all imperial China does not exist anymore. Hasn‘t for a long time. The islands lay in a strategically important area for China and China has shown little respect for territorial boundaries. Again, I will say, ‘Okinawa can try seceding if they wish, but be careful what you ask for.‘

Imperial China ceased to exist in 1911 - before WW1. Besides had little influence over the post-WW1 peace negotiations. Back on topic, all the US and Japan would need to do is make it clear to China that any post-independence Okinawa would be left alone. Korea was traditionally a tributary state of China - but I don't see present day China demanding tribute. So all this talk about China invading Okinawa in the absence of a US military presence is just scare-mongering

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Christopher Glen,

So all this talk about China invading Okinawa in the absence of a US military presence is just scare-mongering

Exactly, it's all part of the yellow-peril-commies-reds-anti-China propaganda that they are pushing now.

The only threat China presents to the US and its puppy dog Japan is in trade and economics. And, with the massive debt the US has to China, that is not a small threat.

But, "Yah boo sucks!" across the fence isn't the way to solve it.

Okinawa still maintains much better relations with China than Tokyo does. If Tokyo had any sense, they would make use of this.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Exactly, and Hayashi has no business sticking his nose in Okinawan affairs

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Exactly, Christopher.

And, as I mentioned before, what I fail to understand is what building the superbase at Henoko has got to do with a minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries?????

Why doesn't Abe have the courage to stand up and speak?

Is he scared that he might overbalance and fall off the fence?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Prob cause all the "tree huggers" & lobbyist say the foundation blocks on the seabed would damage coral. The whole enchelada is obvioulsy political and not enviornmental.

Maybe Abe's intention of using Hayashi in this issue is to flaunt snubbing onaga and okinawa in general. This isn't the 1st time he has ditched an okinawa leader. Especially one who gave directives to "stop" construction. (What guts)-

Besides, he's (Abe) got a lot on his plate with the upcoming visit to DC. (We all can't wait for this one)!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@FadamorMAR. 31, 2015 - 02:34AM JST What is the point of Okinawa being allowed to elect a governor if the wishes of the governor (and Onaga was elected because of his sentiments) are overruled and disregarded. Okinawa might as well be ruled directly from Tokyo if that is the case. It's no different in the U.S. The governor of a state doesn't dictate to the Pentagon how many bases are located in his state. The governors of prefectures/states have NEVER had that ability.

US Govt own properties in almost every state. Other properties in states, Pentagon of US Govt can not touch. Sometimes US land sales are announced with restriction on after sales plans. When US Govt announce a plan to use a certain area of its land, if State resident dislikes, the State residents, State elected US politicians along with business people oppose and usually such plan dies. Example is nuclear waste dump sites. US Govt has been unable to use its lands. So USA Govt is not a dictatorship. Each State has right to reject USA owned land uses.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How it sounds Prefecture needs to assess the damage, and demanded the Defense Bureau stop all activity related to the relocation within one week or lose its license for the drilling work, which could put the entire relocation on hold

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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