Aiko Shimajiri confirms support to Henoko plan
Aiko Shimajiri, Japan’s minister in charge of Okinawa affairs, who’s currently visiting Washington D.C., stated at a symposium that she agrees that the plan to relocate the MCAS Futenma to Camp Schwab is the best option available.
Some former U.S. defense and national security officials attending the same symposium also expressed their agreement with Shimajiri’s statement.
“In order to realize the return to Japan of the Futenma base site, it is indispensable to implement the agreement to build the replacement facility in Henoko,” Shimajiri told the symposium at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Wallace Gregson, former U.S. assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, argued that the replacement facility “is not a new base” but “changes the functions of an existing base.”
Gregson pointed out that, “In return of changing the purpose of Camp Schwab, the U.S. is able to return 1,048 hectares of prime urban property in Ginowan and Urasoe, much of it waterfront, for the development of Okinawa.”
Other participants to the symposium argued that it’s indispensable for the U.S. to keep the Marine Air Station on Okinawa in order for the Marines to be able to respond on short notice to natural disasters, terrorism and other incidents, or crises in the region. The Marines “cannot do that if the helicopters and Ospreys they rely on are somewhere far away.”