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Assembly axes funds for Governor’s U.S. travel

Date Posted: 2008-10-10

Okinawa’s opposition-controlled Prefecture Assembly has redlined a budget item for Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s business trip to America, expressing fears the governor will endorse plans for the proposed new military airfield in Henoko.

Opposition party assembly members deleted a ¥14million appropriation from the Prefecture Budget, passing a motion to block funds for the governor’s visit, during which they predicted he would discuss transferring Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa. “the governor’s request paper writes he will proceed with the American military reorganization work in Okinawa, including transfer of Futenma to outside the Henoko area,” the opposition wrote, “and we are against this.”

The opposition, which includes the Communist and Socialiest Parties, Japanese Democratic Party, the Independent Club and People’s Socialist Party, said “in June’s business meeting that we approved, we said we are against building the new American base, and that it should be taken overseas away from Okinawa. The governor should not go to America to discuss this.”

Nakaima’s supporters say “No, the governor is not going to talk about transferring the base to Henoko at all. He just wants to make a good relationship with America, which is needed.” Liberal Democracy Party officials say “If the base is the reason for cutting the budget, that is bad. How do we explain to citizens? That’s nonsense.”

Nakaima himself said he “feels sorry about cutting the budget for visiting America. I thought the opposition party would understand what I explained during my meeting with them.” He says he doesn’t “Understand why the opposition party cut the budget,” but added “I am still going to visit America, and I still hope the opposition party will understand.”

The governor’s visits to the United States have always been funded by the Prefecture Assembly. The governor has made 11 trips to America since 1985.

The Prefecture Assembly passed a budget totaling ¥3,131,150,000, excluding the governor’s travel.

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