Gov. Onaga sticks to his opposition to Henoko plan
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Obaga met with Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Naha Sunday, warning Kishida that, “If the central government forges ahead with the relocation plan of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, it will create a serious problem for the Japan – US. security alliance.”
Kishida and Onaga met at the Prefectural Office in Naha during Kishida’s visit to the prefecture.
However, Kishida did not give a direct reply to Onaga, and only stressed that stable U.S. military presence in Japan cannot be maintained without local residents’ understanding of its importance.
He insisted that the government would carry out the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko in order to “visibly reduce” Okinawa’s burden of hosting the U.S. bases.
Kishida also presented a carrot to Onaga vowing to support the prefecture’s efforts to attract more foreign tourists to the prefecture. “Okinawa could be a model for other regional governments trying to find ways to increase the number of foreign tourists and investments to boost the local growth,” Kishida reportedly told Onaga at the meeting.
Kishida also explained the recent changes in the Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries to remove legal protections for some U.S. base workers.
In his answer, Governor Onaga insisted the government in Tokyo had not worked hard enough to make sure operations at the MCAS Futenma would cease by Feb. 2019 as planned. Onaga also submitted a written request to close the MCAS Futenma, and for a complete review of the SOFA.