Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki requested Thursday that the Japanese and U.S. governments set a goal of having his prefecture host 50% or less of the total U.S. bases in Japan.
Currently, 70.3% of U.S. bases in the country are concentrated in the southernmost prefecture in terms of exclusive-use area.
Tamaki made the request during his meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo.
Kato stopped short of directly replying to the request, only telling the governor that the central government was responsible for reducing Okinawa’s heavy burden of hosting U.S. bases since the end of World War II.
Tamaki hammered out policy on the 50% base-hosting threshold during his address to the prefectural assembly in February.
In his meeting with the top government spokesman, Tamaki called for the creation of a consultative body comprising officials from the governments of Japan, the United States and Okinawa, and discussing ways to scale down U.S. bases in the prefecture based on local residents’ opinions.
Furthermore, Tamaki stressed the need to reduce airspace and waters used by U.S. Forces Japan for training, complaining that noise pollution caused by aircraft flying into U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in central Ginowan from outside Okinawa has become more severe.
The same day, Tamaki made similar requests to Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.
Kishi was quoted as saying that the central government sees reducing the burden on Okinawa as the most important challenge and will do everything it can to resolve it.
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