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Takeshi Onaga's Last Stand

Why Onaga became a critic of GOJ

Akiko Yamamoto Part-time Lecturer of Okinawa International University

拡大The funeral of Okinawa's Governor Takeshi Onaga was held in Naha, Aug.13 2018

Governor Onaga has been known for the protest to the Futenma relocation and the criticism of GOJ for ignoring Okinawa’s public opinion since his winning with 100,000 votes on the 2014 election. However, what we know about Onaga was exceptional image all through his life. Since elected as a Naha city assembly member in 1985, Mr. Onaga had belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party for about thirty years and experienced several significant positions of the Okinawa LDP chapter such as secretary general. Mr. Onaga had been loyal to the LDP that he had supported for the Futenma relocation on the SACO (Special Action Committee on Okinawa) agreement during 1990s and the beginning of 2000s. What changed Onaga’s loyal to the LDP and his political position?

The event that Mr. Onaga left a strong impression with his protest against GOJ for the first time was the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircraft to the Futenma Air Station in October 2012. Mr. Onaga, the Mayor of Naha City at that time, criticized the government under rule of the Democratic Party of Japan and demanded the cancel of the Osprey’s deployment. In January 2013, after the DPJ was defeated in the 2012 Lower House election and the second Shinzo Abe Administration was established, Mr. Onaga organized a protest group consists of 140 local statesmen all over Okinawa to march to protest against Osprey’s deployment and demand the withdrawal of the U.S. aircraft from Okinawa at the heart of Tokyo.

Actually, Osprey’s deployment to Okinawa was not the only motive of Mr. Onaga for confrontation with GOJ under the LDP’s rule. The buildup of betrayal by the LDP for a long time strained Onaga’s patience to the breaking point.

Born into a conservative political family

Takeshi Onaga was born in 1950, in the coastal city of Naha, when Korean War broken out and the U.S. occupation force expanded the military bases in Okinawa. Takeshi’s father was also a mayor of Naha City (Mawashi City in those days), and his older brother was a deputy governor. Takeshi decided to run for mayor of Naha City in the future when he was 12 years old. Graduating from Naha High School famous as a prestigious school, Takeshi left Okinawa for entering Hosei University in Tokyo.

Okinawa had been under U.S. military occupation from 1945 to 1972, 20 years longer than American postwar occupation of the Japanese mainland, therefore Takeshi had to have a passport to “study abroad” in the mainland of Japan. GOJ had sought for the reversion of Okinawa and provided financial aid for young people in occupied Okinawa to go to a university in the Japanese mainland since 1948, Takeshi was also educated at Hosei under GOJ’s fellowship.

The young man born into a distinguished political family experienced discrimination against Okinawans in Tokyo and had difficulty finding an apartment, which he never forgot. As young Onaga attended Hosei University, there was a student named Yoshihide Suga, who is destined to become Abe’s chief cabinet secretary and confront Governor Onaga, at the university.

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筆者

Akiko Yamamoto

Akiko Yamamoto Part-time Lecturer of Okinawa International University

Dr. Akiko Yamamoto is a part-time lecturer of Okinawa International University and University of the Ryukyus. Her works of research are “The United States and the Revision of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty: Okinawa, the U.S. Military Bases, and the Alliance (Yoshida Publishing Company, 2017),” “The Outsiders of the U.S. Presidents: the Mavericks Threaten the World (Asahi Library, 2017)” and so on.

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