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Governor compromises, Assembly unfreezes travel funds

Date Posted: 2008-12-19

Hirokazu Nakaima will be traveling to the United States next month at the expense of Okinawa taxpayers, thanks to an 11th hour agreement between opposition party members controlling the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly and the Okinawa Governor.

Fearful the governor would begin talking to American lawmakers about the relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Ginowan City to Henoko in northern Okinawa, the opposition had voted down funding for the governor’s trip at October and November business meetings. The governor’s office had requested travel funding as part of the budget process. The opposition had told the governor they didn’t want Nakaima discussing the airfield relocation,what they view as a new military base on the island.

Once told the Assembly would approve funding if the governor would promise not to talk about base reorganization problems, Nakaima set the opposition’s mind at ease by reassuring the opposition politicians he would not discuss Futenma. In a letter to the Assembly, the governor says he will tell the U.S. officials “Futenma Air Station, Camp Zukeran and Makiminato Oil Supply should return” to Okinawa control.

Happy with Nakaima’s promises, the Assembly said the travel funding would be approved at the December business meeting, clearing the way for the governor to depart January 6th to the U.S. Nakaima will spend 10 days in the U.S., meeting with officials in several states. He also plans to meet with members of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team.

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