Onaga, new Okinawa minister meet in Naha
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and the new minister for Okinawa Affairs, Yosuke Tsuruho, had their first meeting in Naha, Tuesday.
In the meeting, Onaga reiterated his demand that the central government fully meets the prefecture’s local revitalization projects that had been agreed upon before. The central government has pledged to spend at least ¥300 billion a year on Okinawa, but there has been some speculation lately that the government aims to link the money with the progress in the contentious relocation project of MCAS Futenma t Henoko.
Onaga also said he wants the minister to work to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting many U.S. military bases in line with the hopes of residents in the prefecture.
In response, Tsuruho said he will consider the request within the government. He assumed his post in a cabinet reshuffle just a week ago.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has stated earlier that the government would keep its promise to spend at least ¥300 billion on Okinawa, and that any future cuts would not affect any ongoing large-scale projects in the prefecture, such as building the second runway to Naha Airport.
The OPG has presented the central government a request in writing to secure at least ¥300 billion yen in funds for local revitalization measures and extend tax breaks for Okinawan awamori.
During their meeting, Onaga and Tsuruho did not raise the issue of a linkage between Okinawa revitalization budget and issues related to U.S. bases in the prefecture.