Naha – Okinawa Prefecture and the central government remained apart during a meeting Saturday over the planned relocation of a U.S. military base within the prefecture.
In his first meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki demanded an immediate halt to the work to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal district of Nago.
The relocation “will not lead to the removal of the danger” related to the base, Tamaki told Matsuno at the prefectural government office in Naha.
Matsuno, also minister for measures to reduce the impact of U.S. military bases on Okinawa, reiterated the central government’s view that the current relocation plan is “the only solution” to the Futenma issue.
Matsuno was making his first visit to Okinawa since he took office as chief Cabinet secretary last month.
“Steady progress in the work will lead to the realization of the full return of the Futenma land at the earliest possible time and the removal of the danger,” Matsuno said.
“We’ll do our utmost to reduce the burden and promote the economy while building a relationship of trust with local people through careful explanations,” he added, explaining Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s policy of the importance to dialogue.
Tamaki said that it will take more than 10 years to complete the relocation.
He asked the central government to secure at least ¥300 billion in Okinawa promotion expenses for fiscal 2022, compared to ¥299.8 billion sought in a budget request in the summer.
At the meeting, the two sides expressed their respective views, Tamaki said, adding that he has strong expectations of future progress through dialogue.
Asked whether the relocation issue affects central government decisions on Okinawa promotion expenses, Matsuno told reporters that the two things are tackled together though they are not directly connected.
Before the meeting with Tamaki, Matsuno met with Nago Mayor Taketoyo Toguchi and the leaders of Henoko and nearby districts in Nago at a hotel in Naha.
In Ginowan, Matsuno had talks with local residents. A resident complained about noise from the Futenma base caused by nighttime flights. Matsuno replied that the complaint will be reflected in discussions on the Futenma issue.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.