Okinawa Governor suggests he will reject base relocation proposal

September 27, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly began questioning the Okinawa Prefectural Government on September 26 for the September round of regular meetings. Four people asked questions on the first day. Governor Hirokazu Nakaima stated that he will decide in December or beyond whether or not to grant approval of the application documents to reclaim land off Henoko in Nago. Nakaima said, “It will be a decision that fits in with the context of previous statements.” The Okinawa Defense Bureau has filed the application to the governor for permission to carry out the reclamation necessary to build a replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

To date, the governor has repeatedly stated that moving the base to Henoko would be difficult and that it should be relocated outside Okinawa. This new statement has caused ripples in that it implies a rejection of the base relocation plan.

Governor Nakaima also voiced doubts from the viewpoint of feasibility, saying that the plan is “a pie in the sky, just a plan on paper.” He made this comment in response to a member of the Social Democratic Party and Okinawa Goken-network (a parliamentary group for Protecting the Constitution) Yoshiaki Nitta.

In the past, the governor has limited his comments on deciding whether or not to adopt the plan to saying that he will take everything into account. This is the first time that he has suggested what his decision might be. After the session, Nakamine answered a question from a reporter seeking to confirm that what he said reflects his past stance of requiring that the U.S. military base be moved outside of Okinawa. He said, “I have no idea. I am in the process of reading the application document and I have not taken any specific steps yet, so I answered the question in general terms.”

In the second questioning session, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, Isho Urasaki, asked the governor, “If there are no problems at all with the application documents, will that affect the judgment? In the 17 years since the issue of moving Futenma began, all sorts of political problems have arisen. Will they also affect the judgment?” Governor Nakaima said that it goes without saying that the decision will be made from a political perspective.” He stated that the judgment would be in keeping with the context of his previous statements.

He also pointed out problems with the plan, saying, “It has made no progress in the past ten or so years.” Nakaima said, “Judgments on the practical and technical levels on both the Japanese and American sides are impacting upon the politics. I think the U.S. and Japanese governments should settle the issue politically.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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