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Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Wednesday he will welcome “constructive” exchanges with Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota to resolve the issue of U.S. military bases in the prefecture.

“I would like to hold discussions with Gov. Ota if he wants to present constructive opinions that will lead to progress,” Nonaka told a news conference.

Ota, who has rejected the central government’s plan to build an offshore heliport in the northern Okinawa city of Nago, is reportedly seeking a meeting with Nonaka to discuss the bases issue.

Nonaka denied media reports that government leaders have decided not to meet with Ota, saying there is no time for political bickering because the Okinawa economy needs immediate attention. “Okinawa’s economic situation is serious,” Nonaka said. “This is no time for a political tug of war.”

The planned heliport is a key part of an agreement between Tokyo and Washington in 1996 to close the U.S. Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

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