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Gov. Nakaima Adamant: Get Futenma Base off Okinawa

Date Posted: 2011-12-02

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has gone nose-to-nose with Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba, firmly demanding the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station be transferred outside the southernmost Japan prefecture.

Genba told Nakaima during their weekend meeting in Naha City that the central government still will make sincere efforts to obtain support for its plan to relocate the base in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area of Nago, another Okinawa city.
Nakaima said, however, that the Okinawa prefectural government differs with the national government, expressing its opposition to the relocation plan.

Nakaima continued to insist Okinawans “have differences of opinion” over the plan.

In the meeting, Genba explained to Nakaima that Japan and the United States reviewed the implementation of the bilateral status-of-forces pact to make it possible to bring to justice in Japanese court U.S. military personnel or base workers suspected of committing serious crimes or causing major accidents. When Genba told Nakaima that Japan proposed the review of the pact's implementation with great awareness of the issue for reduction of Okinawa's burden of hosting U.S. bases, the governor said that Okinawa is deeply grateful for the government's move.

“We would like to keep making the utmost efforts” to persuade the U.S. to make changes in the Status of Forces Agreement, Genba said, while agreeing that there’s strong public criticism for Japan’s lack of jurisdiction, which he called unfair. Nakaima said “We are grateful that the issue has taken a step forward.”

Still, Nakaima reminded Genba that the people in Okinawa have strong hopes that the bilateral pact will be amended. Before meeting with Nakaima, Genba held talks with members of the Okinawa chapter of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. They told Genba that the current circumstances in the prefecture do not warrant the Futenma base transfer to the Henoko area.

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