: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Futenma becoming contentious to government

Date Posted: 2010-02-25

The war of words is heating up on the entire question of what to do about Futenma, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government coalition is finding itself at odds with each other as to solutions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano fueled the dispute over the weekend during a meeting with Okinawa’s governor while visiting Naha. “We’re looking for the best option, but might end up making a better choice,” Hirano told news media in response to Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s statement “the best solution would be to find a relocation site outside the prefecture.” Hirano’s words suggested Futenma’s relocation could still be Okinawa after the government and the three ruling political parties in the coalition meet.

Stung by harsh words from his smaller coalition partners, Prime Minister Hatoyama had to brush back his Chief Cabinet Secretary’s words. He told reporters in Tokyo “We’re going to find the best option out of all the options, and not simply a better one.” Hatoyama’s finding himself being boxed in by divergent opinions being expressed not only by the People’s New Party spearheaded by Okinawa’s Mikio Shimoji and the Social Democratic Party, but also by officials within his own government.

Toshimi Kitazawa, Japan’s Defense Minister, declared that “Considering the government is going to make a decision by May, I’d like to have compiled ideas as early as possible.” He’s met with Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda and others to discuss a wide range of issues, including U.S. military relocation issues not related to Okinawa. He is sounding out the prospects of moving carrier-based aircraft from the Navy’s Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Kanagawa Prefecture to the Marines’ Iwakuni Air Station.

As for Okinawa and the Futenma problem, Kitazawa says it’s possible the government could still go ahead with moving Futenma to Henoko, as agreed to in May 2006 in a bilateral U.S.-Japan Agreement. “We’ll seriously consider the plan if it’s approved at the central government consultative panel,” he said, noting “the plan calls for relocation to the premises of another base,” which would seem to indicate Camp Schwab, as planned.

The People’s New Party is advocating the idea of moving Futenma to Camp Schwab, but building the runways inland instead of in Oura Bay. Kitazawa says he’s willing to consider the concept, but Mizuho Fukushima, who is State Minister for Consumer Affairs and Gender Equality as well as being leader of the SDP, says that’s totally unacceptable. Kantoku Teruya, an SDP Diet Affairs Committee Chairman from Okinawa, says “even though it’s relocated to an existing base, it will certainly increase the burden of Okinawa residents, and we’re basically opposed.”

Demonstrating the in-fighting within the parties, the PNP’s Shizuka Kamei, who serves as State Minister for Financial Services and Postal Reform, has lashed out at the SDP for rejecting the PNP proposal. “Coalition partners,” he says, “are now supposed to study plans they think are the best and consider the feasibility of each plan.” He tried to solicit support from the Democratic Party of Japan’s Secretary-General, Ichiro Ozawa, but Ozawa told him “I’m not involved in policy making.

Hatoyama is trying to play down the differences, saying “It’s best to draw up a plan that will be understood by the people of Okinawa Prefecture and accepted by the United States, and that allows all three ruling parties to each say they can agree. That doesn’t seem possible, let alone easy, as Nago City’s new mayor says “I’ll never allow such a facility to be built either in the inland sections or offshore areas of the camp.” Susumu Inamine, elected in January, says Camp Schwab is simply not an option.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, who has supported the Henoko plan, at least in principle, now says it would be “difficult” to have Futenma relocated within Okinawa. During meetings with the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Nakaima learned of a Tokyo plan for building only a heliport at Camp Schwab, moving the fixed wing aircraft out of Okinawa. “We have not sounded out the United States about the idea,” Hirano told Nakaima, and Nakaima renewed his request to be kept informed of the ruling coalition’s intentions.

Hirano says a liaison office has been established at the Cabinet secretariat with a branch office in Naha to gather information from Okinawans to better deal with the base issues. Other government sources say the U.S. has been told of the basic idea to build a 300 to 500-meter-long heliport at Camp Schwab. The original relocation agreement calls for building 1,600 to 1,800-meter long V-shape runways in nearby Oura Bay.

Hirano says public opinion as viewed by the Nago City mayoral election in Okinawa should be respected, saying “we’ve decided to take a balanced view between reducing the burden on people in Okinawa, nullifying danger, and ways to secure the country.” He says he’s “never secretly discussed with the U.S. Government any ideas about the land-based heliport.”


Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleJU FacebookOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker