Okinawa Governor Onaga officially requests moving Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa
February 6, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
Members of the Council for the Promotion of Dezoning and Reutilizating Military Land in Okinawa visited the offices of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Ministry of Defense, and U.S Embassy in Japan on February 5. They filed request documents asking the governments of Japan and the United States to move U.S Marine Corp Air Station Futenma outside of Okinawa. After assuming the office of Okinawa Governor, Takeshi Onaga formally asked for relocation of the base outside of Okinawa. It was the first time a governor had done so in writing. While the two ministers did not meet the delegate, administrative officers received the documents. Onaga has visited Tokyo six times since his accession to office last December. Although he visited the office of the Prime Minister on February 6, he could not meet with him. Instead, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita met Onaga. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who is also the minister in charge of reducing U.S base hosting burden in Okinawa, will not meet him this time.
Koji Tomita, the head of the North American branch of the ministry met Onaga at the office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Akihiko Nakajima, director general of the Bureau of Local Cooperation met him at the office of the Ministry of Defense. Onaga said, “We would like the Japanese government to avoid Futenma Air Station becoming a permanent fixture, and work on moving the base outside Okinawa and returning the land it is now using. We also want the U.S and Japanese governments to stop the operation of the base within five years, and remove the dangers the base poses, as soon as possible.”
While Tomita said, “We have to avoid the base becoming a permanent fixture,” Nakjima replied, “The Henoko relocation is the only way to solve the issue.”
In his response to Nakajima’s reply, Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine said, “There were no reasonable grounds to relocate the base to Henoko. The way the Japanese government is forcing through the plan is terrible.” Inamine strongly criticized the security practices of the Okinawa Prefectural Police and Japan Coast Guard.
As well as Onaga and Inamine, five heads of municipalities in Okinawa took part in the delegation. However, Ginowan mayor Atsushi Sakima and Sachio Kuwae did not join because they did not support relocation of the base outside Okinawa. Onaga said, “Everyone takes their own unique stance, taking action while being in anguish over the issue. They are doing their best to fulfill their political goals.”
The council members visit Tokyo to see ministers and Prime Minister every year. In the last fiscal year, the Cabinet officials, including Abe met the delegate. There is a major difference between former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and Onaga when it comes to the Japanese government’s treatment.
(English translation by T&CT)
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