Government intends to stick with Heneko plan

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is ready to push for Henoko.

It did not take long after the LDP’s resounding victory in the Upper House elections last Sunday for the government to confirm its intention to stick with the long-stalled plan to move MCAS Futenma to the planned new location in Henoko.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga suggested Monday that the government will move forward with the planned relocation of the move of MCAS Futenma to Henoko as planned, despite the re-election of Keiko Itokazu, the incumbent who strongly opposes the plan.

In the election, Itokazu, who ran for a third term defeated Masaaki Asato, the LDP-backed candidate. Her margin of victory was about 33,000 votes, much narrower than she had in the previous Upper House election in 2007, when she beat the LDP candidate by 127,000 votes.

Suga said that the diminished margin justifies the government’s stance on the dispute, stating that “The outcome was much closer than in the previous election. The government will do what it has to do,” he added.

The election campaign highlighted differences on Futenma problem between LDP headquarters and the local branch. The LDP’s Okinawa chapter advocated the relocation of the MCAS outside Okinawa, a position backed by Asato, while LDP headquarters insisted that the transfer should proceed as originally agreed between the U.S. and Japan.