U.S. Congressional report warns against heavy-handed action by Tokyo or Washington on the Henoko landfill

February 27, 2014 Ryota Shimabukuro reports from Washington D.C.

The U.S. Congressional Research Service released a report entitled “Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress” on February 20. It praised Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s approval of the Henoko landfill because it allows the United States and Japan to clear an important political hurdle in the plan to relocate the Futenma base. However, it warned, “There remains a risk that heavy-handed actions by Tokyo or Washington could lead to stridently anti-base politicians making gains in Okinawa, particularly in the gubernatorial election later in 2014.” The U.S. side is not optimistic about the future situation for the Henoko issue.

The report emphasizes, “The Abe Administration, having invested significant time and money in meeting Nakaima’s conditions for approval, will likely need to invest additional political capital to ensure that the base construction proceeds without significant delays and without further alienating the Okinawan public.” It mentioned that the governor’s race will be held in the fall. The report said, “Despite the bold decision by Governor Nakaima, most Okinawans oppose the construction of a new U.S. base for a mix of political, environmental, and quality-of life reasons.” “There are those who support the U.S.-Japan security alliance while objecting to the significant and disproportionate ‘burden’ imposed on Okinawa,” the report added.

(English translation by T&CT)

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