Okinawa governor asks new U.S. ambassador to reduce base burden on Okinawa

Okinawa governor asks new U.S. ambassador to reduce base burden on Okinawa

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy after meeting on November 29 at the ambassador's residence in Tokyo. (Photograph provided by the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office.)

November 30, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima met U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy for the first time on November 29 in Tokyo. The governor asked the U.S. Ambassador to resolve the Okinawa base issue, saying, “People feel that there is an undue burden of bases in Okinawa. I want you to work towards resolving the issue by taking the feelings of the Okinawan people into consideration.” He asked the ambassador to visit Okinawa, but did not mention the relocation issue of the Futenma base. After the meeting, the governor explained the conversation to reporters at the Diet.

According to an official of the Okinawa Prefectural Government, Kennedy said that she will strive to make progress in resolving the issue of the burden of bases on Okinawa. She said that many people had been working hard to resolve a diverse range of issues. The governor asked the ambassador to go to see Okinawa with her own eyes and listen to what people have to say. She responded that she would like to do this, saying that she wants to hear what Okinawan citizens have to tell her.

The meeting came about due to an invitation from the U.S. Embassy. Susumu Matayoshi, the head of the Executive Office of the Governor, also attended.
The governor is expected to decide whether he will approve or reject the Henoko landfill in December or beyond. In a speech in Tokyo on November 27 Kennedy said that they are committed to proceeding with the relocation of Futenma. She indicated her desire to move the Futenma base within the prefecture in accordance with the Japan-U.S. agreement.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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