NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga left for Switzerland on Saturday to deliver a speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in a bid to make clear to the international community Okinawa’s opposition to the building of a new U.S. military base in the prefecture.
“I want to call attention to the unreasonable situation Okinawa has been put in,” Onaga told reporters before boarding a flight at Naha Airport. “I want to send the message in a way that will capture (people’s) attention all over the world and get them thinking.”
The trip to Geneva for the U.N. meeting follows the governor’s announcement last Monday that he will revoke a permit his predecessor gave to the central government for landfill work off Okinawa’s main island to build the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base in a coastal area off the city of Nago.
Onaga and his supporters oppose the Japanese-U.S. plan to build the base in the Henoko area, replacing the marines’ Futenma facility, which is located in the densely populated city of Ginowan, south of Nago.
On Sept. 12, the central government resumed preparatory work for the land reclamation after a month-long suspension in order to hold talks with the prefecture that ended without resolving the standoff between the two sides.
The permit repeal by the governor could come as soon as Thursday, after he returns to Japan.
Onaga is scheduled to deliver his speech at the Human Rights Council on Monday afternoon. While in Geneva, he will also speak at a symposium organized by a civic group in Okinawa.
It is likely that no sitting Japanese governor has delivered a speech at the council before.