WASHINGTON – A high-ranking official from Okinawa called on the U.S. government Thursday to help reduce the prefecture’s burden of hosting U.S. military facilities, including the Futenma airfield, the official said.
Susumu Matayoshi, head of Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima’s executive office, told reporters that U.S. officials, including Marc Knapper, head of the State Department’s Japanese Affairs Office, promised to be mindful of the request.
Matayoshi said he told Knapper of Okinawa’s wish to see the U.S. military suspend operations at Futenma within five years, before its planned relocation from a densely populated area in Ginowan to another part of Okinawa Island in the 2020s.
They also discussed the recent re-election of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is opposed to moving the Futenma base to a coastal area of his city, according to Matayoshi.
He met with the U.S. officials in Washington after Nakaima approved landfill work to build the Futenma replacement base in Nago, a step U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has described as a “significant milestone” in the long-stalled project.