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Gov. Inamine pushes his case at G8 summit

Date Posted: 1999-06-26

Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine took good advantage of his visit to G8 host city Cologne Saturday, where he and other officials appealed to summit leaders to recognize the problems the prefecture has in dealing with U.S. military facilities located there.

Inamine, on a fact-finding and promotional visit to Cologne, distributed promotional material and videos to summit participants and Cologne officials. Included among the information were pamphlets in which the governor said Okinawa, host of the 2000 G8 Summit in Nago, had been subject to a tumultuous past and has “been tossed about by storms of history, and continues “to struggle with the difficult issue of military bases,” according to an AFP report.

The pamphlet also outlined the hopes of Okinawans who seek the “planned and phased reduction and realignment of the bases” issue. The governor was accompanied by a delegation of 86 local government officials including Nago City officials and members of the prefectural police department.

The major concern aired in Cologne covered the large numbers of U.S. military personnel and facilities located on the island. Okinawa houses more than 25,000 military personnel while 25 percent of its land is used by military installations. Nearly 75 percent of all U.S. facilities throughout Japan can be found in Okinawa.

Meanwhile, in Nago, a ceremony was held June 14 to mark the launch of construction on the main conference and reception hall at Cape Busena. Construction is expected to be finished by March 2000, three months before the opening of what is now formally being called the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, to be run from July 21-23.

Many regard the choice of Okinawa as summit host a “reward” by Prime Minister Obuchi for the role it played as Japan’s last line of defense during the closing days of World War II. More importantly, the “reward” would in fact boost Japan’s poorest prefecture with an injection of 10 billion yen into the local economy. This economic impact could help Okinawa overcome its heavy reliance on the U.S. military presence and tourism, officials said.

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