Minister of Defense refuses to meet Nago Mayor

July 6, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa has refused to meet Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who wanted to meet Kitazawa to inform him that he would call for both the U.S. and Japanese governments to reverse the decision to relocate the facilities currently located at U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City. That official stance was reconfirmed at the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2) held in Washington on June 21.
Kitazawa explained his refusal to meet Inamine by saying that the mayor had refused to meet the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau director, who had tried to explain to him the content of the agreement decided at the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2).
Kitazawa said, “He needs to get a proper grasp of the situation before he makes any sort of proposition to the government. I do not want to meet a mayor who tries to go straight to the top without listening to an explanation of matters from the Director of the Defense Bureau.”

A minister, a vice minister and a ministerial aid of the Ministry of Defense all refused to meet with Inamine, and instead put forward clerical staff to meet him.
Inamine criticized the Ministry of Defense for refusing to meet him, saying, “The Ministry showed no sign of being prepared to listen to the opinion of the local community.”

While Kitazawa has insisted that he would like to improve the level of communication with the local people of Nago City, who oppose the current relocation plan, on every occasion he has refused to meet Nago Mayor Inamine, who has tried to directly express his opposition to the plan.
Kitazawa said, “Although the Director of the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau tried to explain to Mr. Inamine the content of the agreement decided upon at the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (2+2), he would not meet him. Once he has a proper grasp of the situation, I would like Mr. Inamine to express his thoughts and make a proposition to us.”

After requesting the withdrawal of the decision on the Futenma relocation (reconfirmed at the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee), to Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Japan, Katsuya Okada, Inamine talked to reporters, saying, “The Director of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau tried to report about the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee in a matter-of-fact manner, but my approach was not like that at all. I do not really feel that the government is trying to deal with the situation seriously.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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