In Washington D.C., Okinawa Governor says, “Moving Futenma outside of Okinawa will encourage an early resolution.”

In Washington D.C., Okinawa Governor says,

In the morning of October 23, at a symposium held in Washington D.C., Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima called for the relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of the prefecture.

October 24, 2012 Hideki Matsudo of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

In the morning of October 23, the Okinawa Prefectural Government held a symposium in Washington D.C. to discuss the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma relocation issue. In his opening speech, Governor Hirokazu Nakaime stated, “I think that moving the Futenma base to another area of mainland Japan is a way to resolve this quickly. The Okinawan people are keen to fix this problem.” The governor addressed experts from the United States and Japan, officials of both governments and an audience packed into the conference room, emphasizing that Futenma Air Station should be relocated outside Okinawa and that the land used for the base should be returned to its owners as quickly as possible.

With regard to relocation plan for the facilities at Futenma to move to Henoko in Nago, which was reaffirmed at the Japan-U.S. agreement in April this year, the governor stated that the mayors of 41 municipalities opposed the current plan. Stressing that the option of relocating Futenma Air Station outside the prefecture will be the solution, he went on to say, “Okinawa already has too many bases as it is. The problem will not be solved if the government moves them within Okinawa. The planned move to Henoko involves delicate issues such as the impact on the natural environment. There are many airfields in the Japanese mainland that have runways,” In addition to the governor, Patrick M. Cronin, a senior advisor of the Center for a New American Security, Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Narushige Michishita, an associate professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies and Akio Takahara, a professor at the Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo, took part in the symposium. Mike Mochizuki, a professor of the George Washington University, served as a facilitator.

O’Hanlon pointed out that the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko is impossible in the current political climate. He suggested the idea that involves building small helipads in the Northern Training Area and Camp Schwab and transferring most of the Marine Corps troops in Okinawa to bases in California, rather than to Guam. He emphasized that this would be a solution.

Jim Webb, U.S. Senator (D-Va.) and a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, in his keynote address, again indicated that he is skeptical about the possibility of the Henoko plan working. In September 2011, when Nakaima attended at the international symposium entitled the “Okinawa Question: Regional Security, the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and Futenma,” which was held in Washington D.C., he made his first plea for the relocation of the Futenma base outside of Okinawa Prefecture.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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