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Opposition raps Abe gov't for 'no compassion, humility' for Okinawans over landfill work

People in canoes and boats protest against the commencement of land reclamation work off the coast of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Dec. 14, 2018. (Mainichi/Takeshi Noda)

TOKYO -- Opposition parties reacted sharply to the government's commencement on Dec. 14 of land reclamation work off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from another city in the southernmost prefecture.

"The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has no compassion toward Okinawa, nor any humility toward the will of local residents. The landfill work should be stopped," said Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) secretary-general Tetsuro Fukuyama before a group of reporters at the National Diet building in Tokyo at 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 14, shortly after the work began. Fukuyama was referencing the Sept. 30 Okinawa governor's race, in which anti-relocation candidate Denny Tamaki won by a landslide.

Referring to a prefectural referendum scheduled for next February in Okinawa over the base relocation, Fukuyama added, "Why is the Abe government not even waiting to see the referendum results? This latest move has revealed the administration's hard-line posture."

Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, told the media in Yachiyo, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on the same day, "This is precisely the resurgence of 'bayonets and bulldozers,'" likening the reclamation work to the postwar land confiscation in Okinawa by the U.S. forces to expand military bases. "If Okinawan residents' sentiments against the United States intensify, that could adversely affect Japan-U.S. security arrangements," he added.

The Japanese Communist Party staged a protest speech in front of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. Akira Koike, head of the party's secretariat, told the audience, "Okinawan residents have demonstrated their unified opinion in the gubernatorial election that they are not allowing the relocation of Futenma airfield to Henoko. If Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is truly the leader of Japan, then he should respond to the wishes of prefectural residents and do his job."

"The Futenma air station is said to be the world's most dangerous base, surrounded by schools and residences," Fumio Kishida, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, emphasized in comments to the press. "It is essential to provide careful explanation that the relocation will lead to alleviating the burden (of the base)."

(Japanese original by Shuhei Endo and Akira Murao, Political News Department)

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