How important is resolution of the issue of the move of the functions of the Marine Corps Airbase Futenma to...anywhere but where they are now? On Friday, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo presided over a cabinet meeting. He had to do so because Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, holder of position in charge of Cabinet meetings, is in Guam reviewing sites and facilities being prepared for the relocation of fraction of the U.S. Marine Corps forces currently based at Futenma. Though it was not much remarked in the reporting on the Suga visit (Link) Friday's meeting marked the first time in 19 years that a PM had to fill in for an absent chief cabinet minister.
When and what was the occasion of the last time a CCS was out of town and the PM had to direct a cabinet meeting? When Chief Cabinet Secretary Kajiyama Seiroku was in Okinawa, negotiating (successfully, as it turned out) Nago City's acceptance of being the host of a Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF). Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryutaro presided over that cabinet meeting, a seeming eon ago (Remember the press conference of Hashimoto, with U.S. Ambassador Walter Mondale standing behind him, announcing the move of the Marines base from Futenma to Nago within five or at most seven years?) (Link -J)
Speaking of the move to Nago, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism approved a resumption of the groundwork for the FRF, overriding Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi's revocation of the initial construction permit (Link). While a logical move, the ministry's action represents further erosion of the guarantees of local autonomy, found in Articles 92, 94 and 95 of the Constitution. (Link)
Since the candidates supported or provided by Liberal Democratic Party of Abe Shinzo lost, in order, the Nago City election, the Okinawa Governor's election and all of Okinawa House of Representatives seats to anti-base construction candidates, Thursday's resumption of construction is a failure of the concept of local, democratic control.