Okinawa governor warns forcible construction of a new base will lead to future trouble for Japan-US security relations

Okinawa governor warns forcible construction of a new base will lead to future trouble for Japan-US security relations

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga held a press conference upon finishing his schedule in the United States on February 3 at the National Press Club, Washington D.C.

February 5, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

Sakae Toiyama reports from Washington D.C.

On February 3, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who visited the United States to call for the cancellation of construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago, held a press conference in Washington D.C.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reaffirmed their commitment to the relocation of the U.S. Futenma base to Henoko at their meeting held on February 3 in Tokyo. Regarding the meeting, the governor said, “If they adhere to the policy that Henoko is the only solution, it will lead to future trouble for Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements.” He added, “I will continually oppose the construction of the new base in Henoko. My determination is getting stronger.”

During his visit, the governor hit back at the governments of Japan and the U.S. after they confirmed they would push on with the Henoko relocation, saying, “It is very disrespectful to the Okinawa prefectural people.”

“A big political force against the Henoko relocation has been building up. The elections have demonstrated public opinion opposing the base construction. A tough approach to the people will incur damages [to security arrangements],” he said.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who visited Washington D.C. to lobby the U.S with the governor, criticized the meeting between the Prime Minister and the U.S. Defense Secretary, saying, “They say Henoko is the only solution without giving any reason. The prefectural people will absolutely not be convinced by this argument.”

“I will exercise power as mayor for citizens,” he said, vowing to block the relocation.

The governor emphasized the achievements of his visit:” We were able to gain understanding on the Okinawa base issues, including the construction of the new base, from members of the Senate and House.”

He said, “I will continuously call for a resolution of the new base issue through the human network that has been built, information gained through the discussions from this visit, and the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s Office in Washington D.C.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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