Hiroshima, Nagasaki to urge Kennedy to visit

JIJI

Hiroshima and Nagasaki will ask new U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to visit the atomic-bombed cities, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said Friday.

Matsui told reporters that he and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue are arranging a trip to Tokyo to meet with Kennedy by the end of this year.

Matsui also thanked Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki for eliciting a recent comment by Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua that signaled his willingness to attend an annual memorial ceremony on the Aug. 6 anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing in the future. The Hiroshima mayor said he will join Yuzaki to ask Chen to participate.

No Chinese envoy has previously attended the Hiroshima ceremony.

Separately in Tokyo the same day, Kennedy told Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima that she wants to visit his prefecture and listen to the voices of local people.

Kennedy was responding to a request from Nakaima to visit Okinawa during their 30-minute meeting at the ambassador’s residence in Tokyo. They met for the first time since Kennedy took office in mid-November.

“Okinawa is shouldering an excessively heavy burden to host U.S. bases,” Nakaima told Kennedy, calling on her to visit the prefecture at a proper time and listen to the voices of people there, according to Japanese sources.

Kennedy was quoted as saying that as U.S. ambassador, she wants to make efforts to resolve the U.S. base issue.

She also expressed hope that U.S. firms will launch operations in Okinawa and that student exchanges between the prefecture and the United States can be promoted.

According to Nakaima, the plan by the Japanese and U.S. governments to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is in Ginowan, with a new airstrip in Nago, also in Okinawa, was not raised in the meeting.