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Former Okinawa defense chief to return

Date Posted: 2011-12-23

Ro Manabe, the former chief of the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Bureau, is headed back to the island.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa is reappointing Ro Manabe to replace Satoshi Tanaka, who was fired last month. The reappointment of Tanaka's predecessor is apparently designed to smooth the way for the government to submit an environment assessment report on a U.S. base relocation plan to the prefectural government.

Manabe, 54, now deputy head of the ministry's Local Cooperation Bureau, has strong ties with Okinawa while being familiar with the local situation. He served as Okinawa Defense Bureau chief between January 2008 and August 2011. The post of Okinawa Defense Bureau chief is responsible for drawing up the environment assessment report.

The appointment, which is expected to take effect within the next few days, comes after Tanaka was dismissed from his post after gaffes he made in reference to the transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa, to the Henoko area of Nago, also in Okinawa. The Okinawa prefectural government has urged the ministry to give up on the report in protest to the gaffes made by Tanaka and the defense minister himself.

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