Onodera, Kishida to state case in Okinawa

Kyodo

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will visit Okinawa next week to brief Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima on measures to reduce the heavy concentration of U.S. military bases in Japan, government sources said Friday.

Kishida and Onodera are expected to again seek Nakaima’s approval to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan with a planned airstrip in the Henoko district in Nago farther north on Okinawa Island.

The visit next Tuesday comes after the two ministers discussed the measures with their U.S. counterparts in Tokyo earlier this week during the “two-plus-two” security meeting.

The governor’s approval is required to begin filling in land off Nago to build the replacement base’s runways, which will extend offshore.

Onodera said at a news conference Friday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told ministers in charge of Okinawa affairs to visit the prefecture as frequently as possible to persuade residents to accept the replacement base.

Kishida, Onodera, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to move some MV-22 training flights outside Okinawa.