Henoko to be named base site

Hatoyama remains undecided about seeking Cabinet OK

by Jun Hongo

The government will name the Henoko coast of Nago in Okinawa as the relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in a joint statement with the United States to be issued Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said.

Hirano said the issue was addressed during his meeting Wednesday with Yasumasa Shigeno, secretary general of coalition partner Social Democratic Party, which opposes keeping the base in Okinawa.

Hirano, of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said Thursday the negotiations will not be restarted from square one.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will hold a news conference Friday afternoon to explain the administration’s position after conferring with President Barack Obama by telephone.

Hatoyama remains undecided, however, about whether to seek approval of the Futenma decision from his Cabinet or settle for issuing a prime minister’s statement that would not require his ministers’ signatures, including that of SDP chief Mizuho Fukushima, who has threatened to pull her party out of the ruling bloc if the air base is kept in Okinawa.

The SDP officially decided at an executive meeting earlier in the day to rebuff any Cabinet agreement to keep the base in the prefecture, saying any such accord would be a betrayal of the local people.

Fukushima reiterated her position at the meeting not to endorse any compromise deal that would “abandon the people of Okinawa.”

“This is a crucial moment for the SDP,” Fukushima told fellow party members, expressing her strong opposition to the DPJ. Other SDP members insisted Hatoyama rework the agreement with the U.S. from scratch.

But Fukushima remained quiet on whether to leave the coalition, as opinions within the SDP are divided, according to senior party members.

Asked about possibility of being ousted from the Cabinet, Fukushima said that decision was up to the administration.

Hatoyama vowed to continue discussions with the SDP over the issue Thursday morning, saying Fukushima was merely expressing her views, but adding he “will continue efforts to gain as much understanding as possible until the last minute.”