Okinawa Governor travels to the United States to demand the relocation of Futenma Air Station out of the prefecture

Okinawa Governor travels to the United States to demand the relocation of Futenma Air Station out of the prefecture

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima


September 20, 2011

“The Okinawa Question: Regional Security, the U.S.-Japan Alliance and Futenma (hosted by the Okinawa Question U.S.-Japan Action Committee)”, an international symposium in which key figures from the United States and Japan discuss the issue of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and U.S.-Japan security policy, was held at George Washington University in Washington DC in the morning of September 19.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima delivered a lecture in which he called for the review of the agreement between the United States and Japan that has the replacement facilities for Futenma Air Station down to be constructed at Henoko in Nago City. This is the first time that Nakaima has gone to the United States to demand the relocation of Futenma Air Station out of the prefecture.

With regard to the Okinawan people’s strong desire to move the base outside of the prefecture, Nakaima stated, “Relocating Futenma Air Station to another prefecture or city within Japan is the most logical thing to do and the best way to quickly resolve the matter. The current plan to move the facilities to Henoko should be revised.”

The advent of a new administration in September 2009 saw the Japanese government consider relocating the Futenma Air Station out of the prefecture or the country altogether, but it ended up returning to the existing plan to relocate it within the prefecture, without agreement from the people of Okinawa, and reached an agreement on this with the U.S. government on May 2010.

Nakaima said, “The agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments has given momentum to Okinawan people’s demands for the relocation of the air station out of the prefecture.”

With that in mind, Nakaima went on to warn that the U.S. and Japanese governments pushing through the relocation to Henoko could trigger fierce anti-base movements across the prefecture, a development that could impact negatively upon the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

With regard to the Japanese government’s alluding towards the continuation of the operation of Futenma Air Station with no progress on relocation of Futenma relocation, Nakaima pointed out the dangerous nature of an air station placed in such a densely populated area where there are schools and residential areas, saying, “It is just not possible to continue to operate the base in its current manner.” Nakaima stated that the early relocation of Futenma Air Station and the swift return of military-occupied land is absolutely necessary.
“The Okinawa Question” is a meeting of experts on diplomatic issues between Japan and the United States including security issues.

Akikazu Hashimoto, affiliate professor of J. F. Oberlin University, was the head of the Japanese contingent, and Mike Mochizuki, professor of George Washington University, headed the American contingent.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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