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Yonaguni sets terms for two American warships

Date Posted: 2007-06-14

Yonaguni Town has extended a welcome to a pair of American Navy ships, with a set of behavior stipulations attached.

The US Navy’s USS Patriot and USS Guardian are scheduled to visit the southernmost area of Okinawa June 24th-26th, and Yonaguni’s mayor has spelled out the terms for the port call. Morikichi Hokama says the American sailors are welcome, so long as they “take care of residents’ feelings. For me, the citizens’ minds are very important.”

The U.S. Navy, in requesting the liberty call through the Ishigaki City Coast Guard Office and the Prefecture government, said “it’s a friendship exchange. We would like to have crew members take a little rest, and for this short rest time we think Yonaguni Town is a great location.” Mayor Hokama agreed, and reminded the Navy it “must be safety first. Everyone must be comfortable.” If the conditions aren’t accepted, he told the Navy, then the two ships cannot come to his town. The American Consulate in Naha says everything will work well. “They just want to have a few days break, have fun, and make friends with local towns people.” The captains of the two ships have asked to have visits with the mayor, and have a party with the local residents.

The U.S. Navy says it also plans to host a dinner with residents aboard the two vessels. There are also plans for a barbeque that would involve all Yonaguni residents, including the children.

The one glitch unresolved centers around immigration inspections. “Even Taiwan ships couldn’t come to our harbor because of the Immigration Bureau problem,” says the mayor. “We don’t have enough service. We don’t have any inspections. How can we accept American ships and not Taiwan ships?”

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