July 19, 2017
Ryukyu Shimpo Reporter Asks Question to UN Rapporteur
At the press conference by UN Rapporteur David Kaye on April 19 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, a reporter named Aragaki from one of two newspapers in Okinawa, Ryukyu Shimpo, asked a question to Kaye. Aragaki asked about suppression of demonstrations by those who oppose the construction of the new base in Henoko, Okinawa. In addition, Aragaki asked Kaye’s opinion about political pressure being applied to two newspapers in Okinawa (Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times).
Kaye said that he was familiar with the protests in Okinawa. Prior to his visit to Japan in April, he had communicated with the government on the allegations of excessive use of force during protests both on land and at sea. He communicated with the national police and the coast guard and he said his team would continue to follow and monitor the case.
Below is the transcript of the comments about Okinawa made during the press conference.
Aragaki from Ryukyu Shimpo (one of two newspapers in Okinawa): My name is Aragaki (last name) from Ryukyu Shimpo. I will ask a question in Japanese. In Okinawa, there are protest movements against the construction of a new base in Okinawa. There is a severe suppression of civilians who participate in this protest movement. Moreover, there is hate speech and hate crime occurring towards those citizens. In addition, some politicians in Okinawa state that the two newspapers in Okinawa should be abolished.
Kaye: Thank you. We actually raised issues around protest in and around Okinawa. In fact it’s been an issue that I have focused on in the past. Even before coming to Japan we communicated with the government about our concerns related to allegations of repression of demonstrations both in the water around the base in Okinawa and on land, particularly allegations of excess use of force. So, we raised with this issues both with the national police and with the coast guard. I think both agencies understand that we are going to continue to follow this issue and hopefully monitor. We also heard about certain kinds of hate speech and pressures on the local press in Okinawa. I think those are all very concerning issues. I wouldn’t say that we have enough information to address them comprehensively. But, we expect to continue to follow it both by engaging with the community of Okinawa over the coming months and engaging with the government to the extent we have questions and concerns related to these allegations.