Onaga encourages other governors to imagine 18% of their prefecture consisting of U.S. bases
November 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
(Tokyo) At an assembly of nationwide governors on November 21, the first meeting of a study group established within the governors’ association with the aim of reducing the burden of U.S. bases on Okinawa was held at the Prefectural Assembly Hall in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. At the meeting, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga explained that it is a misunderstanding to think that U.S. bases bring economic and financial wealth, explaining that rather, the bases pose the greatest obstacle to economic development in Okinawa. Onaga explained that 18% of Okinawa Island is used for U.S. bases, and implored the other governors to imagine that 18% of their own prefecture were taken up by bases.
The study group consisted of eleven members, including Saitama Governor Kiyoshi Ueda, who served as chair of the meeting, Kyoto Governor Keiji Yamada, who is chair of the nationwide governors’ association, and Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa, who is chair of a liaison council of governors with U.S. bases in their jurisdictions.
Ueda emphasized that as people responsible for their respective locales, the members must compile research results and points of issue, and must use the study meetings as a basis to raise their voices and bring up the issue in the nationwide governor’s association. Yamada said that he wants to see the base issue discussed as a common issue shared by all in the nationwide governors’ association.
Upon hearing Ueda’s remarks that the idea of the U.S. bases being the greatest obstacle to Okinawa’s economic development could apply to other areas as well, Onaga asserted that he felt the other governors had understood that bases are a burden for the locales in which they are located.
The study group will look at issues related to the U.S.-Japan security relationship, the Status of Forces Agreement, and base burden reduction. If the group is to provide recommendations to the national government, there will first be discussions among the nationwide governors’ association, and if its ideas are to be reflected in policy demands, there will be investigation into such matter among the nationwide governors’ association’s general standing committee and the abovementioned liaison council. The group plans to meet every two to three months, and the next meeting will be held between the end of January and the beginning of February, after President-Elect Trump of the United States takes office.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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