Okinawa senior official visits Washington to reiterate demand for relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa

Okinawa senior official visits Washington to reiterate demand for relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa

Susumu Matayoshi, the head of the Executive Office of the Governor.


December 31, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On around January 10, Susumu Matayoshi, the head of the Executive Office of the Governor, visited Washington to directly convey to U.S. government officials that the prefectural government would continue to demand the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa. Matayoshi intends to reassert the prefectural government’s position regarding the plan ahead of President Barack Obama’s inauguration for his second term on January 21. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to hold summit talks with Obama around the time of the inauguration.

Because Prime Minister Abe intends to uphold the bilateral pact to relocate the Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district of Nago, before the summit meeting with President Obama occurs, Matayoshi aims to convey to the U.S. government that the people of Okinawa are not swayed, and to demand the relocation of the base outside of the prefecture. Matayoshi intends to meet with Marc Knapper, director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the State Department and Christopher Johnstone, the Pentagon director for Northeast Asia.

In addition to the Futenma relocation issue, Okinawa senior official Matayoshi will explain to the U.S. government officials the strong feelings on Okinawa about ongoing crimes and incidents involving U.S. military personnel. He intends to meet researchers who have some degree of influence over the U.S. administration.
Given that a new defense secretary and secretary of state will be appointed for Obama’s second term, Matayoshi intends to give detail of the prefectural government’s stance to the U.S. government, and to gather information about the Obama administration’s new strategic policy that emphasizes the Asia-Pacific region.

Last time Matayoshi visited Washington to oppose the deployment of the Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to Okinawa in July 2012, he demanded the relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa.
Last October, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima met with Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and Mark Lippert, the assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, in the State Department in Washington, D.C., and demanded the relocation of the base outside of the prefecture.

Matayoshi intends to explain during his meetings that despite the launch of the new Abe-led government Nakaima still asserts that the base should be relocated outside Okinawa. He will also tell U.S. officials that all four Liberal Democratic Party’s lawmakers from Okinawa who won parliamentary seats in the latest general election, also seek relocation of the base outside the prefecture, and that there is strong opposition to the Henoko plan among the Okinawan people.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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