Gov. Onaga criticizes Japanese officials for viewing Okinawa only in strategic terms
August 17, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On August 16, at the prefectural government office, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani met with Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga to gain his understanding on the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to Henoko, Nago.
At the meeting, the defense minister said that the government would advance the relocation plan in order to maintain deterrence in the region. In response to this, the governor strongly criticized the government, saying, “About 1.4 million people live in Okinawa, but you see it only as a part of territory.”
He criticized the government for treating Okinawa only as a military strong point.
Onaga urged the defense minister to consider moving the Futenma base to other prefectures or abroad. He referred to claims by former U.S. government officials and military experts that Okinawa, where the U.S. military bases are concentrated, would be vulnerable if targeted, because the islands are within range of China’s ballistic missiles.
However, Nakatani stressed that the government would maintain the current relocation plan in the prefecture to avoid a possible situation where there will be no military presence. He also said that they would strengthen the missile-defense system against missile attack.
After his meeting with the defense minister, the governor told reporters, “I felt that his focus was on Okinawa being required to defend Japan rather than paying attention to the people and the history of Okinawa.”
Onaga told the defense minister, “We cannot deepen our discussion if the government clings to its stance that it will advance the plan based on the Japan and U.S. agreement that Henoko was the only solution to the Futenma issue.”
He said to the defense minister, “The Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga and I have discussed the issue of deterrence and reducing the base burden, but this meeting has not further deepened our discussions.”
At the beginning of the meeting with the governor, Nakatani mentioned the U.S. army helicopter crash that took place off the coast of Uruma City. He said, “It is very regrettable. I have asked the Okinawa area coordinator for U.S. Forces Japan to investigate the cause of the accident and prevent recurrence of such accidents.”
The governor said, “We have felt a sense of futility. Okinawa’s prefectural governors and municipal mayors have protested to the U.S. military officials and requested they investigate the cause of accidents and take preventative measures, but the military has responded with pedantic replies that focus on technicalities such as “operational reasons”.”
Nakatani met with the heads of districts near Henoko and the mayors of the municipalities that host the military bases in the northern and central parts of the island.
(English translation by T&CT)
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