Yoichi Iha attends first Diet session, vows to convey Okinawa’s situation
August 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
[Tokyo] On the morning of August 1, Yoichi Iha, who was recently elected to represent Okinawa in the House of Councillors, attended his first Diet session. With a look of determination on his face, Iha said, “It is a heavy responsibility to become a Diet member at this crucial moment, when the Okinawa issue and so many other challenges are facing us.” He discussed his resolve to convey the will of Okinawans on the Diet floor, including opposition to the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago, and to the planned construction of helipads in exchange for the return of a part of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area.
After attending the Diet session, Iha exchanged a firm handshake with fellow House of Councillors member Keiko Itokazu. Iha and Itokazu have formed a faction within the House of Councillors called “Okinawa Whirlwind,” which will belong to the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and Committee on Judicial Affairs. Iha will be on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense. Iha pointed out that people are not sufficiently aware of the ways in which Okinawan human rights and property rights are being infringed upon by the bases. “Ignoring the will of the Okinawan people and pushing forward with the [construction of] military facilities will damage the U.S.-Japan security alliance and Japan’s national security. I want to start by getting people to learn about the real situation in Okinawa,” Iha said with intensity. Iha was seen off to the Diet session by his wife, Nariko, and his son, Shunsuke.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)