PM Abe’s policy speech emphasizes Henoko relocation, fails to mention closely attending to Okinawans’ feelings

January 29, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

In a policy speech at the National Diet on January 28, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once again stated his intention to move forward with the relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City. He said, “After more than twenty years of discussions with Okinawa’s prefectural government and its municipalities, we will move forward with the Henoko relocation. As soon as possible we will fully return Futenma Air Station, which is known as the most dangerous base in the world.” Meanwhile, the phrase “pay close attention,” which he has used many times in reference to Okinawa including in his policy speech last year, disappeared. Based on the increasing criticism that Abe “does not pay close attention to Okinawa,” he seems to have avoided use of the phrase. Also, compared with last year his references to the Okinawa base problem decreased drastically.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura spoke about the absence of the phrase “pay close attention” and the decreased reference to the base problem at a press conference on January 28. He said, “We will continue to use various ways to come to an understanding with the prefecture and pay close attention to the feelings of the people of Okinawa, while remaining committed to reducing the base burden.”

In terms of tourism promotion, Prime Minister Abe mentioned that the number of foreign visitors to Okinawa is rapidly increasing. He said, “We will strengthen [Okinawa’s] function as a hub connecting Asia and Japan by greatly expanding its capacity for arrivals and departures,” stressing that construction of the second runway at Naha Airport will progress.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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