Iha ambitious for abandonment of Henoko Base project upon first-time election to House of Councillors
July 12, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On July 11, Ryukyu Shimpo invited former mayor of Ginowan City and newly elected independent to the Okinawa At-large district of the House of Councillors to the Ryukyu Shimpo head office, Yoichi Iha, to ask him about Futenma Air Station relocation and constitutional reform, among other topics. Chief editor Hitoshi Fukuhara asked the questions.
– What are your feelings on being elected for the first time and what have you decided as a course of action in the National Diet?
“Using my experience up to the present, I want to shift entrenched national politics toward making efforts to abandon the plan of a new base in Henoko.”
– Tell us more about your victory by a 100,000-vote margin.
“Okinawans’ anger is rising against the Abe administration forcing military bases on Okinawa. One after another votes for me added up due to [voters’] sentiments that they would never elect my opponent.”
– What was the focal point of your platform?
“The abandonment of a new base in Henoko. Since Okinawans will certainly not accept construction of a new base in Henoko, from here on out I will resiliently demand [abandonment of the plan].”
– How exactly will you accomplish this?
“Facing off with the Government of Japan, I will strongly request that it recognize Okinawan regional authority. To the point of exhaustion I will resolutely insist that [the government] cannot go against Okinawan citizens’ wishes, and moreover force military bases [upon Okinawa].
The United States should make the Abe administration reconsider [concerning a new base in Henoko], parallel to the thinking of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the U.S. does not put bases ‘where [they] are not wanted.’ It is important to directly address Congress concerning how the current state of bases in Okinawa flouts democracy.”
– What about deployment of Self-Defense Forces to the Sakishima Islands?
“I oppose it. I hope for the development of a situation in which China and Japan can peacefully communicate. It is essential that the Senkaku Islands issue be settled through diplomatic efforts.”
– Constitutional reform has been the most prominent point at hand nationally. By what means will you stand in the way of constitutional change?
“It is important that Japanese citizens firmly grasp the significance of and principles behind Article 9 of the Constitution. In order to maintain Article 9, it is essential to continue pursuing harmonious diplomatic relations with China.”
– What about economic problems?
“We must treat the tourist industry with care, and furthermore strive to get Asian people to travel [to Okinawa].”
– Will you take independent action in the National Diet?
“Politically ‘independent,’ yes. If a political faction can be formed in the National Diet I want to do just that. Within the current political efforts for the sake of Okinawa, will it not be possible to build upon [the movement]? If possible, it would be best to have an ‘Okinawa Party.’ The term ‘All Okinawa’ can be given new life.”
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)