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Ota leaves for U.S., is rebuked in first meeting

Date Posted: 1998-05-24

Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota left for Washington D.C., Friday, on his annual trip to press for reduction of the U.S. military bases in the prefecture. In his first meeting with U.S. officials, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Curt Campbell laid the blame of the impasse in the transfer of MCAS Futenma to Ota himself. "We have a clear agreement between our governments concerning the transfer. Why the action seems to be late is a question that should be asked from the Okinawan government," Campbell said.

In explaining the need for U.S. bases in the region, Campbell pointed to the current turmoil in Indonesia as an example. However, the governor said that to his best knowledge there is nothing in the SACO saying that the military bases should be located in Okinawa. "If the SACO is important, all Japanese should share the burden, not only Okinawa," Ota said.

Meeting the press afterwards, Ota complained that U.S. officials just don't seem to understand the issue. "It was great that these officials could meet us and we had an opportunity to exchange views. But I wonder why it seems to be so difficult for them to understand how the bases are all in Okinawa causing problems for Okinawan people. In any case, I will not give up my efforts and talk with them until we reach our goals, step by step," Ota concluded.

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