A couple weeks ago I contacted Representative Ed Case (Democrat – Hawaii) to inform him about the petition to the White House to try to save the coral reef at Henoko, Okinawa, and asking for his response. (The petition currently has over 208,000 signatures!)
This was the letter I sent him:
URGENT: National Security Issue – Requesting Immediate Attention
Dear Representative Ed Case,
I am writing to inform you of an urgent situation that may have a detrimental impact on U.S. national security and overseas interests. This pertains to the U.S. military base that Japan is building over the bay at Henoko, Okinawa. The Okinawan people are overwhelmingly opposed to this base for a variety of reasons, including cost, security, feasibility, economic, environmental, historical and cultural significance. The bay is home to a natural coral reef that contains hundreds of rare and endangered species, and is second in diversity only to the Great Barrier Reef. Losing this bay would be an environmental disaster, not only for Okinawa, but for the world as a whole.
Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, recently visited Washington hoping to speak with you and other Washington officials about this, but he was prevented from doing so by the Japan central government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long shown racial prejudice against Okinawans.
The Okinawan government has revoked all permits for the construction to legally continue, though the Japanese central government has ignored these requirements, in a move that many legal scholars are calling illegal. Okinawa originally scheduled a referendum to be held on February 24th to allow the people their democratic right to vote on the matter, but Abe has pushed forward with the construction anyway in the hopes of crushing the will of the Okinawan people before the referendum, while passing the blame on America. The landfill is occurring as I write this.
I believe this to be an urgent matter of America’s national security interests. To continue with the landfill and construction before the democratic referendum is held will greatly insult and anger the Okinawan people; will cause many Okinawans to become disillusioned with democracy; will lead to an increase in anti-military sentiment among Okinawans; will likely cause irreparable damage to America’s relationship with Okinawa; and may increase calls for Okinawa to regain its independence from Japan. However, by stopping the landfill at least until after the referendum, many of these issues can be avoided.
Additionally, this base would cost America billions of dollars every year to maintain, with many engineers worried about whether the ground at the construction site is even stable enough to hold the base. Many military experts agree that this marine corps base would not improve America’s security, since the marines would not be used in the event of a conflict in Asia, and instead the base would only serve to heighten tensions with both China and North Korea, causing them both to bolster their militaries.
On December 8th, I started a petition at WhiteHouse.gov in an attempt to bring this issue to your attention so that you may review it more thoroughly. In just 10 days the petition reached the threshold of 100,000 signatures required to guarantee a response from the White House, and currently has over 170,000 signatures, despite having zero press coverage from U.S. media, and despite heavy censorship from the Abe administration. I am writing to you now to inform you of the urgency of the situation.
I believe this requires your immediate attention. The people of Okinawa, as well as supporters all over the world, are now looking to you to ensure that democracy is carried out for Okinawa, that this precious part of the environment is protected, and that more peaceful, friendly relations are built in the Asia-Pacific region.
I believe that my experience and position as an Okinawan-Hawaiian cultural ambassador may provide an alternative perspective and allow me to help bridge the gap between Okinawa and the U.S.. Please let me know if you have questions, or if I may be of any assistance.
Happy new year, and thank you for your hard work!
Okinawan-Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador
This was his response:
Dear Mr. Kajiwara:
Mahalo for contacting me in opposition to a new U.S. military base at Henoko Bay in Okinawa.
As you know, this is a difficult issue involving assuring our ally Japan’s security in Asia, deferring to Japan on internal government decisions, and addressing Okinawa residents’ concerns. While Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga opposes the new base, Japan’s national government believes that the U.S. military presence should be relocated from crowded urban Futenma to Henoko Bay. In addition, in December 2016 Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the central government’s plans for moving U.S. troops to the less populated part of the island. I generally believe that some continued U.S. military presence on Okinawa is critical and trust that the national and provincial governments will be able to work out a satisfactory solution as to where.
Thank you again, and please continue to let me know of your views. Please also sign up for regular updates from me and my office through my e-newsletter and social media outreach at https://case.house.gov/contact.
Congressman Ed Case
He clearly did not even take the time to read my letter or the petition. His response was probably a generic reply regarding Henoko or Okinawa that he sends to everyone who writes to him expressing concern or opposition to the military presence there. Case seems to not even be aware that Takeshi Onaga is no longer the Governor of Okinawa, but in fact tragically passed away on August 8th, 2018.
Further adding to the feeling that Case merely had an assistant send a generic letter is the fact that he wrote, “I generally believe that some continued U.S. military presence on Okinawa is critical…”
Nowhere on the petition or in my letter did I ever say I was against all of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Rather, I very specifically stated I was against the base being built at Henoko and that I believe the base is unnecessary and very problematic. Case addressed an issue that I did not bring up, but he failed to address any of the issues that I did ask him to address. This carelessness suggests he, in fact, pays no attention to the Okinawan people, and since Okinawans make up a large portion of the local population of Hawaii (some 100,000), one could say that he cares little for the local people. The petition currently has over 200,000 signatures, which is roughly 20% of the population of Hawaii, and Case effectively ignored everyone who signed.
Just a few days before I received this letter, Case had a strange incident in which he announced publicly that he “feels like an Asian in a white man’s body.” He has been panned by Asians (and non-Asians) for this weird and seemingly racist remark. The fact that he did not even realize that Governor Onaga had passed away more than five months prior, and was not aware of the name of the new governor of Okinawa, further adds to the feeling that Case is racist and does not understand Asian and/or Pacific Island people. Considering that the vast majority of the population of Hawaii is Asian and/or Pacific Islander, this seems to be a serious problem.