Nago Mayor asks US Ambassador Kennedy to cancel relocation of Futenma base to Henoko

Nago Mayor asks US Ambassador Kennedy to cancel relocation of Futenma base to Henoko

Mayor Susumu Inamine (left) responds to questions from the reporters at a hotel in Naha City, at 6:30 p.m., after the meeting with US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy. US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (right) makes speech at a hotel in Naha City, at around 6:00 p.m. on February 12.

February 13, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy held a meeting with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine at a hotel in Naha in the afternoon of February 12. Inamine asked the ambassador to abandon the plan of moving the Futenma base to Henoko, Nago, saying, “I do not want to reclaim land off Henoko to build a new base.” Inamine said, the ambassador did not give a clear answer. However, according to the mayor, she said that she wants to visit Okinawa several more times to see it properly because she could only have a short time to visit a limited number of places this time. The mayor asked the ambassador to tell President Barack Obama that the people of Nago do not want the landfill for a new base. Kennedy responded that she understood that well, Inamine said.

Inamine explained that the result of the Nago mayoral election, in which he was reelected, clearly indicates the will of the citizens who are against building a new base. The mayor said that the ambassador did not say anything to seek his cooperation for the relocation plan to Henoko. The meeting between the two was not listed on Kennedy’s official schedule. The mayor received a suggestion for this from the U.S. side on February 12. The meeting was held in the evening of February 12 before a reception held at a hotel in Naha City hosted by the U.S. side.

Inamine explained the rich natural environment around the Henoko waters, where the endangered species of dugongs and coral reefs are found, and the scale of the new base planned for Henoko. He handed her a booklet in English, which describes the U.S. military base in Nago. However, there was no mention from Kennedy of specific matters such as the dugongs. After the meeting, Inamine said to the reporters, “Ambassador Kennedy listened with interest [to the explanation about dugongs and coral reef]. I had a good talk with her prior to her visiting Henoko.”

On February 13, Kennedy visited the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Camp Schwab in Henoko. The ambassador arrived at Okinawa in the evening of February 11. At the meeting with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima held on February 12 at the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office she stated that she will strive to reduce the burden of bases on Okinawa. At the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Ambassador Kennedy pledged to do all she can to promote the building of a better future for children and a more peaceful world. She visited Shuri Castle and interacted with the students of Shuri High School in Naha.

(English translation by T&CT)

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