Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has acknowledged in recent interviews that he didn’t have any concrete strategies for moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma out of Okinawa before promising to do it.
He also said he didn’t expect the issue to become serious enough to force him to resign.
Hatoyama, who stepped down last June, said he was so baffled by the problem that he resorted to using the term “deterrence” to describe the marines because it was “expedient” in explaining why he had to break his pledge and keep them in Okinawa.
“I used the word ‘deterrence’ because I needed to provide a reason” for moving the base, currently in the city of Ginowan, to the Henoko coast in Nago, further north in Okinawa, Hatoyama said.
He later apologized to the Okinawan people after failing to pave the way for the base’s removal from the prefecture.
Elsewhere, the former prime minister criticized both the Foreign and Defense ministries, saying they take for granted that the U.S. base will be kept somewhere in Okinawa.
“They must have shrugged off my idea about the relocation (of Futenma outside the prefecture) because they believed it would be impossible,” he said.
In order to break the impasse over the relocation issue, he said he had contemplated visiting the United States during last year’s Golden Week holiday season to hold direct talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.
On Monday, the government tried to distance itself from Hatoyama’s controversial remarks.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano refused to touch on Hatoyama’s comments and said that whatever his views, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan strongly believes the presence of U.S. Marines in Okinawa is essential to the peace and security of Japan and the region.
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