Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Faleomavaega attacks Japanese leader; decries vestige of imperialism

At a March 17 hearing of his own Asia-Pacific subcommittee called to examine U.S.-Japan relations, Chairman Faleomavaega in his opening statement attacked Japan Prime Minister Hatayama for his “financial scandals and uneven leadership,” which he says are among the reasons his popularity has deteriorated steeply since his election last year.  So unpopular is Hatoyama that “only one-quarter of voters say they plan to cast their ballots for the party in July’s Upper House elections,” asserted the combative chairman.

He also recalled that the Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is a part, was once a sovereign kingdom that was annexed by Japan and remains a vestige of Japanese imperialism.   He also said Okinawans “face discrimination throughout Japan.”  During a visit to Tokyo in January, Faleomavaega said the wishes of the Okinawan people should be given priority in deciding the dispute over the future of the U.S. military presence on the island.

Here is the relevant text of Faleomavaega’s statement:

The burdens the Okinawan people have shouldered on behalf of the alliance should not be underestimated. With less than one percent of Japan’s land area, Okinawa is host to two-thirds of the American forces based in the country. We should also remember that Okinawa, once the sovereign Ryuku [sic] Kingdom, was forcibly annexed by Japan in 1872, and that during the Battle of Okinawa, one-third of its inhabitants died. To this day, Okinawa remains a vestige of imperialism as it languishes behind the rest of the country economically and educationally, and its people face discrimination throughout the [sic] Japan.

In dealing with the Futenma relocation issue, we must not neglect this history. Politically, we must also recognize that Prime Minister Hatoyama’s approval ratings have deteriorated steeply from almost 80 percent when he took office to 30-40 percent now, largely as a result of financial scandals and uneven leadership. Even worse for the DPJ, only one-quarter of voters say they plan to cast their ballots for the party in July’s Upper House elections.

After Faleomavaega finishes liberating West Papua from its Indonesian oppressors, one wonders if he plans to turn his attention north to pry the poor, subjugated Okinawans away from their Japanese masters.

Meanwhile, Congress is on Easter recess and most House members have returned to their Congressional Districts to explain what Obamacare will mean for their voters.  Not Eni, of course.  He contented himself with issuing a press release, which Samoa News dutifully ran, and headed off to Taiwan to meet with President Ma, who has just concluded a six-nation swing of the South Pacific.  So far, no mention of this trip in Samoa News, where his sister-in-law serves as an editor.

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