Gov’t mulls meeting with Okinawa on U.S. base transfer plan

by Jan 29, 2024Featured Article, News

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi on Sunday expressed eagerness to hold a task force meeting with Okinawa on the transfer of a key U.S. military base within the prefecture, amid local objections to the plan.

But during his talks with Hayashi in Naha, Okinawa Gov Denny Tamaki urged Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government to consider public opinion and abandon the relocation plan for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, now located in the densely-populated city of Ginowan.

Hayashi, who also serves as the minister in charge of mitigating the burden of U.S. forces in Okinawa, told Tamaki that he is planning to arrange a gathering of the task force consisting of the central government, prefectural authorities and city officials from Ginowan.

Earlier this month, the Kishida administration began construction work in the coastal Henoko area in Nago for the transfer of the U.S. base after approving a modified landfill plan by proxy, taking the unprecedented step of overriding Okinawa’s backlash.

Hayashi, who was in Okinawa for the first time since he became chief cabinet secretary in December, said the central government will “make every effort” to achieve the relocation of the Futenma base to the less densely populated area of Henoko “as soon as possible.”

The central government and Okinawa have long been at odds over relocating the Futenma base within the prefecture after the transfer plan was agreed upon between Japan and the United States in 1996. The Japanese government selected Henoko as the new site in 1999.