Nago Mayor demands the withdrawal of the Henoko plan to Foreign Minister, who is driving it as the site for the Futenma relocation
October 20, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo
On October 19, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba met with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine at Nago City Hall, and with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima at the Okinawa Prefectural Office. He requested their understanding with regard to the plan to relocate the Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City, which was decided upon by the governments of the United States and Japan. However, the mayor responded by expressing his objection to the Henoko plan and strongly requested that both governments cancel the agreement regarding Henoko. Governor Nakaima reiterated his stance, saying, “[Getting acceptance of] moving the U.S. Marine Corps from Futenma Air Station to Henoko will take a long time. We want it moved somewhere else in Japan and want Futenma Air Station returned to Okinawa without further delay.” The central government is yet to bridge the rift between Tokyo and Okinawa.
At the meeting with Governor Nakaima, the Foreign Minister issued an apology, saying, “[With regard to the Futenma relocation] Our talk of relocation to somewhere ‘at least outside the prefecture,’ increased the level expectation, and unfortunately, we have ended up coming back to the Henoko plan.” He went on to say, “Considering the role of Okinawa in East Asia, finding an alternative somewhere else is no easy matter. It’s painful for me to have to say this, but I would like to ask you to accept the relocation of the facilities at Futenma within the prefecture. This is the starting point for us to remove the risks that currently surround Futenma. We want to move ahead with this plan in keeping with the U.S.- Japan agreement to promote the relocation of the Marine Corps in Okinawa to Guam and to return the land used by U.S. bases south of Kadena.” With this Genba indicated his intention to push ahead with the relocation to Henoko.
With regard to the matter of U.S. military personnel not being prosecuted despite being suspected of causing fatal traffic accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol, Foreign Minister Genba said, “I want to do something about this old agreement between Japan and the United States in which the consumption of alcohol by someone attending a public event has been treated as ‘being on official business.’ I will do my best to get something done about this.”
At his meeting with Nago Mayor Inamine, the foreign minister said, “[With regard to the relocation of Futenma outside the prefecture] I would like you to understand that we have tried hard to come up with a way to resolve this issue,” but the mayor responded by saying, “We do not sense that the government is trying hard to resolve this issue.” He continued by saying, “The candid opinion of the people of Okinawa is that we will not tolerate any further burden.” Inamine also explained his election promise that he “will not approve the construction of a new base in the sea or on the shore at Henoko,” and after clearly stating, “Right to the end, I am determined to keep the promise I made to the residents,” he urged the foreign minister to approach the United States to call off the plan to relocate the base to Henoko.
On October 19, Foreign Minister Genba visited Futenma Air Station and Camp Schwab. On the same day, he also met with Takeshi Onaga, the mayor of Naha City, Takeshi Gibu, the mayor of Kin Town, and with various leaders of the municipalities around Kadena Air Base.
(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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