Welcome to Okinawa, Madame Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. It is your first visit to Okinawa as the US Ambassador to Japan. Many Okinawans are paying close attention to your visit and the statements you will make.

They are listening closely because they want you to see the real situation here, the real Okinawa that cannot be described in State Department staff briefings or reports from Japanese government officials.

They want you to see USMC Futenma Air Station, located in the heart of the densely populated city of Ginowan. They want you to experience- not from the sky, but with your own feet, your own eyes, your own ears - the ocean at Henoko, in the city of Nago, the proposed location of Futenma’s replacement and designated by our prefectural environmental survey as a Rank 1 site : Urgent Need for Environmental Protection.

In November, 1963, on the day your father, US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, this island was also enveloped in that sadness.

The red light district of Koza dimmed its neon lights as restaurants and bars closed of their own volition. The following day, at schools and workplaces, many residents grieved in silence the loss of the President.

After being appointed as ambassador to Japan, surely you have learned much about the concerns surrounding the US-Japan relationship. As you know, the issue of USMC Futenma Air Station has been a huge strain on that relationship in the 18 years since your government and ours pledged to return it to the Okinawan people in 1996.

Why hasn’t the issue been resolved? Please visit Henoko. Talk to the people in the tent village on the seashore who have for years been sitting in protesting the proposed relocation. You will hear the raw voice of Okinawa, far different from the explanations of our governments’ foreign ministers and defense secretaries. You will quickly come to the heart of the problem.

The mayoral election was a clear expression of the will of Nago city. Residents reelected incumbent Susumu Inamine, who said that the relocation of Futenma to Henoko was in direct contradiction with the regional needs of Nago and its residents. In a prefecture wide opinion survey conducted by the Okinawa Times and another news organization at the end of last year, close to 70% of Okinawans expressed opposition to the proposed Henoko relocation. The majority in Okinawa are still opposed to any relocation of Futenma within the prefecture.

During your visit here, you should meet with Mayor Inamine and listen to the reasons why.

You have expressed “deep concern” about the “inhumaneness” of dolphin hunting on Twitter, saying that “the US government opposes dry hunt fisheries”.

The ocean around Henoko is the habitat of the Dugong, an ocean mammal like the dolphin. The Dugong is a Japanese natural monument and the Ministry of Environment has designated it as an endangered species at high risk of extinction.

If the ocean around Henoko is buried, the Dugong will lose their home and their extinction cannot be avoided. To forever lose the Dugong from the planet for the sake of the construction of a military base would be a great detriment to the human race.

The Japanese government has ignored the result of the Nago mayoral election and continued to move forward on the process of burying the ocean at Henoko. To allow the construction of this base to continue in direct opposition to the will of local residents is completely unacceptable in a democratic society.

To attempt to build a new military airbase in Okinawa after the tragedy of the Battle of Okinawa, the 27 long and difficult years of American occupation that followed it, and the disproportionate burden of military bases shouldered by Okinawa since, is nothing but blatant discrimination against the Okinawan people. Please relay these feelings to President Obama.

社説[拝啓 ケネディ大使]現地訪ね市長と会談を









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