NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – A senior Defense Ministry official was fired Tuesday from the post of chief of the Okinawa Defense Bureau over an indiscreet comment he allegedly made about the government’s plan to relocate the Futenma military base in Okinawa Prefecture.
Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa announced the dismissal after questioning the official, Satoshi Tanaka, about media reports quoting him as using a Japanese term often interpreted as implying an act of sexual violence against women in reference to the controversial plan.
Tanaka was flown up to Tokyo earlier in the day to explain himself.
Ichikawa said it would be difficult for Tanaka to continue in the post while the ministry is in a crucial stage regarding various issues involving Okinawa.
The controversy stems from Tanaka’s comment during a drinking session with members of the media in Naha on Monday night.
Asked why the central government has never given a clear schedule for submitting to Okinawa an environmental assessment report, which might help move the relocation plan forward, participants quoted a drunken Tanaka as saying, “Do you declare that you are going to commit an act before you do so?”
He allegedly used the word “okasu,” which can be used to mean “rape.”
Tanaka reportedly told Defense Ministry officials that he doesn’t remember using that word during the conversation.