Gov. Onaga to continue direct negotiation to stop new base

June 5, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo Sakae Toiyama reports from Washington D.C.

On June 3, Governor Takeshi Onaga, wound up his campaign in Washington, D.C, where he has been petitioning leaders to cancel the plan to build a new military base in Henoko, Nago City and immediately close and return Futenma Air Station.

At a press conference there, Governor Onaga summarized his visit, saying that the meetings had deepened U.S. government officials’ and political and security experts’ understanding of Okinawa’s stance. He stated, “Compared to before our visit, I think great strides have been made. I want to build on those achievements and keep moving forward step by step.” He reaffirmed his determination to prevent the base relocation.

However, after Governor Onaga met with U.S. State Department Office of Japanese Affairs Director Joe Young and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Cara Abercrombie, the U.S. State Department released a statement declaring their commitment to moving forward with the Henoko relocation.

Governor Onaga claimed his trip to the U.S. was a success emphasizing that “because the U.S. and Japanese governments say that ‘Henoko is the only option,’ many people believe there is no doubt that they will be able to build the base, but the truth is, the relocation work has failed to move forward up until now for many reasons, and I gained their understanding regarding this point.” Governor Onaga reiterated his intention to be persistent in continuing direct negotiations with the United States, mentioning that he agreed with the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain to continue their discussion of the issue.

The U.S. State Department statement declared that “the governments of the United States and Japan share an unwavering commitment to the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF)…The plan to construct the FRF is the only solution that addresses operational, political, financial, and strategic concerns.” The statement also emphasized that the relocation plan constitutes relocation within the current Camp Schwab facility, stating, “The FRF is not a new base; rather, the United States and Japan are adding capabilities to an existing base.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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