In policy speech, Abe says government will proceed with Henoko relocation “in accordance with Supreme Court ruling”

January 20, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo Digital Edition

(Tokyo) On the afternoon of January 20, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave his policy speech to the plenary session of the House of Representatives. Regarding the construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago City in conjunction with the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Abe emphasized, “in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling, we will proceed with relocation work off the coast of Henoko, Nago City.” Abe also stated, “In the past, it was said that the base should be relocated ‘at least’ outside of Okinawa, but this did not pan out, and all that was left was disappointment. No amount of bold assertions can change reality in the slightest. We will move forward with what is necessary. We will produce results.” Abe’s comments referred to the Democratic Party of Japan administration in 2009 and made his position of promoting the new base construction clearer than ever.

In addition, Abe’s speech promoted strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance, but also emphasized measures the government has taken to reduce the base burden on Okinawa, such as the return of part of the Northern Training Area and the execution of a supplemental agreement to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) clarifying the scope of U.S. military-related persons who have SOFA status.

In relation to Okinawa revitalization, Abe said, “Okinawa is a bridge to Asia. It is our country’s gateway to tourism and distribution.” He expressed his intention to support improvements to the New Ishigaki Airport, which is being used by an increasing number of tourists from overseas, so that it can handle larger aircraft.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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