From Ten Thousandthings
In a Dec. 17 press conference, Ambassador Kennedy first briefly mentions Okinawa at the 10m40s mark. She then talks about Okinawa again at the 23m45s mark. Around the 23m40s mark she talks about the next few years being critical and how moving Futenma is the “best plan” and “the plan we should implement as fast as possible.” At 23m48s she says, “…once we are able to move MCAS Futenma out of Naha…”
Analysts have differing perspectives on Ms. Kennedy’s referencing Futenma training base in Naha, instead of Ginowan City, its actual location. Some wonder if she intentionally made the error to go off script & undermine the credibility of her statement endorsing the US-Jp govt. plan to landfill Henoko’s dugong and coral reef ecosystem & build a concrete-block offshore V-22 Osprey training airstrip.
Others speculate that she has no knowledge of Okinawan issues and is simply acquiescing to being used as a “Kennedy” mouthpiece for the US & Jp govt landfill plan. She does not speak Japanese, has not visited Henoko, despite public invitations & appeals, notably by Henoko children and American marine biologist Katherine Musik.
Ms. Kennedy’s father, President John F. Kennedy, appeared to have a change-of-heart regarding US militarism and interference in democratic process in foreign countries, especially in the months before he was killed in 1963. He called for an end to the Cold War, invoked visionary, pro-peace, anti-militarist, and anti-imperialist language. Okinawan & Japanese citizens hoped that Ms. Kennedy would follow her father’s legacy, but her tenure has proved disappointing to those who hope she would fulfill the Kennedy legacy.
Many also feel similar disappointment that Ms. Kennedy is not following the legacy of her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who was renowned for being a voice for cultural heritage preservation. Supporters of Okinawa hoped Ms. Kennedy would advocate for the protection of the Okinawa dugong, a natural cultural monument, one of the few examples of Okinawan cultural heritage not destroyed by the US-Japan war and US seizures & destruction of entire villages to build bases in Okinawa from 1945 to 1972.
Still, many Americans, who are inspired by President Kennedy’s turnaround in the last year of his life, haven’t given up hope that his daughter will similarly speak and act for human rights, democracy, and peace for Okinawa & Japan.
Ms. Kennedy has had numerous opportunities to distance herself from the US-Jp govt landfill plan, which is opposed by the Okinawan prefectural government & people, but she has yet to exercise her diplomatic skills to attempt to work out a mutually agreeable solution that would preserve Okinawa’s most important cultural heritage site. Preserving Henoko is the only way to salvage what is left of the tattered US-Okinawan-Jp relationship.
Still, many who are inspired by President Kennedy’s turnaround in the last years of his life, haven’t given up hope that his daughter will similarly speak and act for human rights, democracy, peace, & cultural heritage preservation.
Opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily TokyoProgressive