Henoko not referred to as “the only” option for MCAS Futenma relocation in final NDAA bill

October 1, 2015 Sakae Toiyama of Ryukyu Shimpo reports from Washington D.C.

On September 29, the US Congress Joint Committee on Armed Services presented the final version of the National Defense Authority Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 (October 2015-September 2016). The previous House of Representatives bill called Henoko “the only option for the Futenma Replacement Facility.” This provision was retracted, and this phrase was not included in the text of the bill sent back to the House by the Senate. Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, Okinawa prefectural leaders, representatives of Okinawa in the National Diet, prefectural assembly members and business leaders had been challenging the wording “the only,” and appealing for this phrase to not be used in the final version of the NDAA.

In part of the bill that passed the House, the joint committee stated that progress continues to be made in the US and Japan to fulfill the agreement made by those in attendance of the 2+2 (United States-Japan Security Consultative Committee) meeting in April. This statement demonstrates the joint committee’s wish to move forward with the current plan of relocation to Henoko.

The phrasing “the United States supports recent changes in defense policy, including the adoption of collective self-defense” in the House bill was also not found in later versions. In relation to Japan’s national security policy, the words “the United States welcomes Japan’s decision to contribute more proactively to regional and global peace and security” were removed, as well.

In June of this year Okinawa’s Governor Takeshi Onaga and accompanying delegates visited the United States and appealed to US congressmen. During the visit, they requested changes to the House-passed NDAA phrasing in regards to the Henoko relocation. In July, Okinawa prefectural leaders and Diet members submitted a document to the US Congress appealing for removal of the specific reference to Henoko in the final version of the bill.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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