LDP can’t get Okinawa chapter support

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its local chapter in Okinawa Prefecture are at odds over how the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma base should be handled in the chapter’s election pledge this summer.

The LDP’s Okinawa chapter is planning to pledge to move the Futenma air station out of Okinawa in its campaign manifesto for the triennial House of Councillors election. LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba has held talks with officials of the Okinawa chapter, including its chief, Masatoshi Onaga, and demanded that the chapter support the central government’s policy of relocating the Futenma base, located in the center of Ginowan, to the Henoko coastal area of Nago.

Ishiba says the LDP-led government hopes to reduce the local burden of hosting the Futenma base as early as possible by steadily implementing the Japan-U.S. agreement on the Futenma relocation, but the leaders of the local chapter have refused to go along, saying the chapter’s manifesto will be meaningless if the pledge to move Futenma out of the prefecture is dropped.

After the meeting last weekend in Naha, Ishiba told reporters that the LDP will continue talks with the Okinawa chapter. The party is expected to have difficulty, though,  persuading the chapter to change course.