Japan struggles with Okinawa base

SUBHEAD: Katherine Muzak PHD (kmuzik@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Government and prefecture hold talks over relocation of U.S. Marine base in Okinawa.

By Staff on 5 April 2015 for Japan Times -

Image above: Chief Japan Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (left) and Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga (right) meet in a hotel in Nah, Okinawa, on Sunday. From original article.

[Source's note: It is very exciting, to see the Okinawan Governor, Onaga, supported by his long-oppressed people, at last confronting the Japanese government.  He, we, are supporting protection of the last coral reef ecosystem in Japan.]

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga failed to bridge their differences over the relocation plan for a contentious U.S. air base Sunday in Naha as the standoff between the central and Okinawa governments continued to roil the prefecture.

The talks are the first between Suga, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s right-hand man, and Onaga since he became governor in December with a pledge to block the plan to build a replacement facility for the base in a coastal area of Nago. The base is currently in the city of Ginowan.

At the meeting, which was partly open to reporters, Suga repeated the central government’s position that the relocation plan is the “only solution” when considering several factors, including Japan’s defense alliance with the United States and the need to alleviate the risk of accidents posed by the existing base.

But Onaga stuck to his guns, saying he was “convinced that the new base in Henoko can never be built.”

“You say we should shoulder (the burden of the base ) because (Futenma) is the most dangerous (one) in the world and its risks need to be removed, all the while causing the people of this prefecture great pain. Just saying that itself shows the decadence of politics in Japan.”

Suga, who doubles as minister in charge of base burden issues in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan, said he hopes to regain the trust of the Okinawa residents by working with the prefectural government, while reducing their hosting duties one step at a time.

In the meantime, Onaga again requested a meeting with Abe, who has snubbed the governor during his many visits to Tokyo since taking the post.

After the roughly one-hour meeting at a hotel in the prefectural capital, Suga tried to cast it in a positive light, telling reporters the occasion marked the “first step” in advancing consultations between the central and prefectural governments.

He also indicated his willingness to consider arranging a meeting between Abe and Onaga, saying he would proceed with the idea while listening to Okinawa’s views.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fear and Hope in Oura Bay 1/27/15
The Oura Coral Reef Ecosystem is the last intact one in Japan! US military actions threaten it.

Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
Impacts on Pacific Ocean by military activity focusing on Jeju Island, Okinawa and Hawaii.

Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa resists US Military 2/11/14
US ambassador visits Okinawa amid long-running row over US military bases there.

Ea O Ka Aina: US Okinawa base setback 1/20/14
Japanese voters re-elect mayor opposed to base complaining of pollution, crime and accidents.

Ea O Ka Aina: Okinawa breathes easier 4/27/12
Japan pays to relocate 9,000 US marines off Okinawa to Guam, Australia and Hawaii.

Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
From Japan to Guam to Hawaii, activists resist expansion of US military presence in the Pacific.

Ea O Ka Aina: It's Universal 1/1/2009
How the US Marines live in Okinawa illustrate how crazy we are.

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