Okinawa defense official’s injudicious remark:Defense Minister apologizes to Okinawa Governor, saying, “This has offended the people of Okinawa”

Okinawa defense official’s injudicious remark:Defense Minister apologizes to Okinawa Governor, saying,

Bowing deeply to the Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima (right), Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa (left) apologized at 7:20pm, on December 2, at the Okinawa Prefectural Office for the injudicious remark by Satoshi Tanaka, the director-general of the Okinawa Defense Bureau. (Taken by Yasuhide Matayoshi of the Ryukyu Shimpo).


December 3, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo
In the evening of December 2, at the Okinawa Prefectural Office, Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa met with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima to discuss the injudicious remark by Satoshi Tanaka, the director-general of the Okinawa Defense Bureau on November 28, about the submission of the environmental impact assessment for the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, in Nago. Ichikawa apologized to the governor, saying, “It is an inexcusable remark and a grave breach of moral standards. It has offended the people of Okinawa. In my role as the head of the Ministry of Defense, I would like to apologize to the governor.”

Governor Nakaima expressed strong discomfort, saying, “His remark offended the dignity and feelings of the people of Okinawa. I am very angry about this. It is extremely, … extremely regrettable.”

With regard to the matter of the rape of a young girl by U.S. military personnel in 1995, on December 1, in response to questions at the Upper House Special Committee on East Japan Great Earthquake Reconstruction, Defense Minister Ichikawa stated, “I do not know the full and accurate details of this.” He apologized to the governor for this, saying, “I thought that I should not be explaining that case in detail in a place such as the Diet. I apologize for that.” “I am aware that it was a tragic incident,” he added.

With regard to the dismissal of the former chief of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, Nakaima said, “We are grateful that the government responded so quickly.” However, he added, “There is quite a serious situation here that really does require you to do your utmost to regain the trust of the people of Okinawa. I would like you convey this to the Prime Minister.” Requesting that the central government strive to rebuild the trust of the local people, the governor brought the meeting with the defense minister to a close after about eight minutes.

At his press conference held at Jichi Kaikan Hall, in Naha, after his meeting with the governor, Defense Minister Ichikawa stated, “Inappropriate remarks are a serious issue for us. I will do my best to ensure that there are no negative effects for Defense Ministry staff and Self-Defence Force personnel here in Okinawa in terms of them carrying out their duties. We will move forward, step by step to regain the trust of the local people.” He stressed that all those in the Defense Ministry will strive to restore confidence of the people of Okinawa. In response to a question asking if the recent injudicious remark might impact upon the submission schedule for the environmental impact assessment, he avoided making a comment, saying, “I am not going to comment on this here, at this stage.”

After his meeting with the defense minister, Nakaima stated, “It will be a tough challenge for the government to regain the trust of the people of Okinawa, and it will take some time. People’s feelings of anger about it are not easily placated.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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