Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma, angered over Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota’s rejection of a heliport plan, reiterated Friday that the Futenma Air Station cannot be relocated until the prefecture finds an alternative site. Kyuma, who heads the central government’s special task force to relocate the U.S. facility, said he was shocked by Ota’s “hasty and unilateral decision.” “Frankly, I have to ask why (the governor) had to express (his position) immediately before the (Nago) mayoral election,” he told reporters at the agency’s headquarters in Tokyo.

The key issue in Sunday’s election is the offshore heliport. Kyuma also criticized Ota for having no respect for the efforts of the central and prefectural governments to realign and reduce U.S. bases in Okinawa since Tokyo and Washington outlined measures through a Special Action Committee on Okinawa in 1996. “I’m concerned that (his refusal) may (negatively) affect the other items of the SACO agreement and related economic promotion package for Okinawa,” Kyuma said.

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