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Prime Minister, Okinawa Governor to meet during Okinawa Forum

Date Posted: 2006-05-22

Okinawa’s governor wants to talk directly to the Prime Minister about his concerns on military realignment issues.

Keiichi Inamine, while reportedly accepting the general concept of the troops and bases realignment agreed to by the U.S. and Japan last month, isn’t happy with how the two governments are handling the controversial Futenma Marine Corps Air Station issue. He wants to pitch his case directly to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and that may happen next week.

Koizumi will be in Okinawa for the Pacific Islands Forum May 26~27 in Nago, and he reportedly wants to clear the air with Inamine as well. Senior staff for the two leaders are looking for a time when Koizumi and Inamine can break away from the summit talks to have their private discussions on plans for relocating Futenma to Nago by 2014.

Insiders say a meeting can be easily set if Inamine agrees to go along with the Futenma relocation plans. Inamine met with Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga in Tokyo last week to hammer out an accord. Inamine says he’ll never go along with the plan for constructing two runways at Camp Schwab as a replacement location for Futenma.

At the same time, Inamine does want to see the two governments build an interim airfield at Camp Schwab to accommodate the helicopters. He calls it an ‘emergency measure’ and says he’s simply trying to protect the citizens of Ginowan, in central Okinawa. Futenma sits atop a hill in the center of Ginowan, a bustling city of more than 150,000.

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