• Kyodo News


The government categorically denied Thursday that it might freeze implementation of the fiscal 2011 budget for moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

“We’re not considering such a thing,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

The daily Asahi Shimbun, in a Thursday morning front-page story, reported that Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government might propose freezing the ¥1.8 billion base relocation budget to win the support of the Social Democratic Party in getting budget-related bills through the Diet.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda also denied the report.

The SDP left the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling coalition last May to protest plans to relocate the air base within Okinawa.

Last year, Japan and the United States agreed to move Futenma from a densely populated area in Ginowan to a less populated seaside area near Nago, on the northern end of Okinawa Island.

Under the Constitution, the budget itself can be enacted only with the endorsement of the powerful House of Representatives. But budget-related bills cannot be enacted without the endorsement of the less powerful House of Councilors.

Despite its majority in the Lower House, the DPJ does not have the two-thirds majority necessary to override Upper House vetoes on budget-related bills and is seeking to secure that majority.

“It is impossible,” said Defense Minister Kitazawa, referring to the reported freezing of the relocation budget. “The Defense Ministry is not considering such a thing.”

Foreign Minister Maehara concurred.

“We’ve never discussed such a thing with other government officials or DPJ lawmakers,” Maehara said.

“The Cabinet formed the fiscal 2011 budget as the best one and I hope the Diet will discuss it fully and approve it,” Maehara said.

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