Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs visits Okinawa

Shunichi Yamaguchi, the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, came for a two-day visit to Okinawa, Tuesday, and met Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima at the Prefectural Office. Yamaguchi is the first Abe cabinet member to visit Okinawa since its reshuffle on Sep. 3rd.

Meeting with Yamaguchi, Governor Nakaima first asked Yamaguchi to secure the full budget for Okinawa development. Specifically, the governor wanted to secure the expansion of the Naha Airport as planned. “As there is not enough runway space at the Naha Airport, we would like to ask a favor to expand the area for commercial aircraft to the area now used by the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force,” Nakaima said.

The governor also handed Yamaguchi a petition that includes nine agendas, including the cessation of operations at the MCAS Futenma in five years, installation of a railway and tramway network on Okinawa main island, and financial support for the National Health Insurance.

In an answer to Nakaima, Yamaguchi stated that, “Prime Minister Abe put pressure on me to promote Okinawa. I will try to take care of these matters, and try my best to develop Okinawa as a front runner of Japanese economy.”

Regarding reducing the burden of U.S. bases, he stated, “I am sure that I will deliver this message to Yoshihide Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Minister in Charge of Alleviating the Burden of the Bases in Okinawa.” However, Yamaguchi did not go further than that.

Afterwards, Yamaguchi met Masaharu Kina, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Chairman.  Late afternoon, Yamaguchi met with some delegates of local business groups at a hotel in Naha, and had a dinner with Governor Nakaima.

Today, Yamaguchi is scheduled to meet with municipal mayors and delegates of town and village assemblies, visit the MCAS Futenma, Camp Zukeran and the planned construction site of the second Naha Airport runway. He will then return to Tokyo.