Okinawa Governor appreciates Japanese government’s suggestions for reducing base burden

December 25, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Prime Minister’s Official Residence in the afternoon of December 25. The two leaders discussed the application to carry out the landfill at Henoko in preparation for moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

In response to Nakaima’s requests for a reduction of base burden, Abe stated that the government will start negotiating with the United States towards a new agreement on protecting and surveying the environment inside bases. Nakaima added that he was impressed with the government’s suggestions. He said, “What they have offered is surprising. I am grateful for that.” He said that he would officially decide whether or not to approve the application for the Henoko landfill on December 27.

In the meeting, Abe said that the government plans to transfer half of the training flights of the MV-22 Osprey deployed to the Futenma base to other parts of Japan. Abe also said that the government will set up a team within the Ministry of Defense to consider moving forward the return of the Makiminato Service Area to within seven years.

Abe said, “The Japanese government will focus its efforts on developing the Okinawan economy and reducing the prefecture’s burden of bases.” Nakaima said, “I accept what the prime minister has said and will now decide whether or not to approve the application.”

After the meeting, Nakaima spoke to the press, saying, “The Japanese government worked quite quickly to meet our demands. I think that it will be a good new year.”
When talking to the media, Abe said, “The Japanese government will do all it can. We are determined to produce a solid result.”

The governor will return to Okinawa in the evening of December 25. After discussing the matter with officials in the prefectural government, he will officially decide whether or not to approve the application.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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