The national government’s headquarters for relocating the U.S. Marines Futenma Air Station set up on Sept. 30 a local branch in Okinawa to win support from local residents for construction of a sea-based facility in Nago, northern Okinawa Prefecture.
The facility is to be built off the east coast of Nago, also the site of the U.S. Marines Camp Schwab, according to the final report on the Special Action Committee on Okinawa released last December. The decision to open the new office was unanimous, according to a senior Defense Agency official. It came during the second meeting of the Futenma relocation headquarters, which is headed by Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma and consists of officials from his agency and other government offices.
Hiroyasu Kurihara, parliamentary vice minister for the Defense Agency, was appointed to head the local headquarters, which will be in Naha, the official said. Kurihara is expected to meet with Nago Mayor Tetsuya Higa, Gov. Masahide Ota and other interested parties as soon as early next week to discuss demands, inquiries and other opinions of Okinawans on the issue, the senior agency official said.
Several other relevant ministry and agency officials will also be dispatched to help Kurihara sort out “unpredictable problems” with local residents and governments. The office is planning to hold frequent meetings, the official said. “We must express our strong intention to deal earnestly with the issue in cooperation with the local people,” said Takemasa Moriya, the senior agency official and bureau chief at the Futenma relocation headquarters. He stressed the need for the national government to present to the public as soon as possible the actual image of the sea-based facility.