Okinawa Governor and Mayors ask Prime Minister for more information on return of U.S. bases
June 13, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 12, Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and 27 mayors met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. They asked him to provide more detail about the plan to return U.S. bases and land south of Kadena Air Base, and for information on the alternatives to the closed bases. The Governor and mayors went to Tokyo as members of the Okinawa Municipal Council for Military Land Conversion and Base Problems, which is made up representatives of the 27 municipalities in Okinawa that host U.S. military bases. The Prime Minister said, “I would like to discuss this with you all to move things forward smoothly.”
Mayors from seven municipalities attended the meeting. Asking for detail regarding the process of returning the land, the Governor said, “We do not know where you intend to move what facilities.” They asked the government to listen to the opinions of the Okinawa Prefectural Government and municipalities when it carries out the consolidation plan, and the master plan for the remaining bases. In response, the Prime Minister asked them to be more understanding towards the government’s plan, saying, “There is another party (the United States) involved. It is difficult in this situation for the Japanese Government to just say ‘Yes, okay.’”
Governor Nakaima again asked the Prime Minister to cancel the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft, saying, “Our concerns over the aircraft’s safety have not been resolved.” The Prime Minister said, “It will operate based on the agreement of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee to protect residents’ safety.” He did not comment on the plan to move Osprey-related training from Okinawa to other prefectures.
After the meeting, Governor Nakaima said to the media, “His (the Prime Minister) comments were not specific, but he did said that he wants to reduce the burden on Okinawa.”
Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine told the Prime Minister that the consolidation plan for U.S. bases, which is basically a package proposal including the relocation of the Futenma base within Okinawa, will not move ahead.
Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attended the meeting. Governor Nakaima and the mayors made the same request to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Minister of State for Okinawa Ichita Yamamoto.
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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