Doubts raised regarding the accuracy of a quotation from U.S. president Obama’s remarks about the Futenma relocation issue

September 24, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

In his first meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S. President Barack Obama is reported as having told Noda, “A period in which results must be seen in the relocation plan is approaching.” However, the validity of this quote is doubted.

When asked after the U.S.-Japan summit meeting about this remark by U.S. President Barack Obama, in a less than certain tone, Noda said, “The president said he would like to see progress on the relocation issue.”

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell gave the press corps an explanation about Obama’s mentioning “a period in which results must be seen in the relocation plan,” but this explanation conflicts with Noda’s acknowledgement.

In addition to the U.S. President and Japanese Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the meeting on September 21. They were accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the United States Department of State.

After the meeting, Campbell talked to the media, saying, “Both sides understand we are approaching a period where you need to see results. That was made very clear by the President.”

Following this, Japanese news media reported that President Obama put visible pressure on Japan’s premier with regard to the ongoing problem of relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.

Japanese news media also reported that Obama putting pressure on the Japanese prime minister regarding the relocation plan reflected the “American side’s frustration with the situation in which because of the federal budget deficit the U.S. Congress is questioning the feasibility of the U.S. Marine Forces Transfer Plan from Okinawa to Guam being linked with the relocation of the base at Futenma.”

According to people involved, Noda did not seem to be clear regarding the remark Obama was reported to give in response to a question from the press about whether or not the president was demanding results in the relocation plan.

With regard to his talks with the president on the Futenma issue, Noda said, “I said that I would do my best to gain the understanding of the people of Okinawa regarding the relocation issue while trying to reduce Okinawa’s Base-Hosting Burden. Mr. Obama said that he would like to see progress on the relocation issue.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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