Okinawan senior official repeats demand for relocation of Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa

April 24, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 22, during a trip to the United States, Susumu Matayoshi, the head of the Executive Office of the Governor, met Christopher Johnstone, the Pentagon director for Northeast Asia, and Marc Knapper, director of the Office of Japanese Affairs at the Department of Defense. Matayoshi explained to them that the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) will continue to demand the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa. Utilizing an electronic conferencing system, on April 23 he talked about his meetings in the United States at a press conference held for Okinawan reporters. Matayoshi said, “Some people seem to be optimistic that the governor of Okinawa is leaning toward accepting land reclamation for alternative facility at Henoko in order to commence the relocation of Futenma Air Station, but I strongly asserted that the OPG will continue to demand the relocation of the base outside of Okinawa.”

Matayoshi explained that the OPG’s position reflects the opinion of the municipalities in Okinawa regarding a return and integration plan to give back land currently used for the five U.S. military facilities located south of Kadena.

The U.S authorities stated that the current agreement reached between the U.S. and Japanese governments is the only way to avoid Futenma Air Station becoming a permanent fixture, and that there is no alternative plan. They reiterated their intention to implement the current Henoko relocation plan.

Matayoshi met Mike Mochizuki, a professor of George Washington University. Mochizuki expressed the view that the integration plan did not directly achieve the understanding of Okinawan people.

This is the first time that the OPG has held a press conference utilizing an electronic conferencing system.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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