October 21, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki returned to Okinawa October 20 from a trip to the United States, where he was requesting a halt to the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko in Nago.
In a statement given on the day of arrival, Tamaki reported that his meetings with U.S. Congress members were “fruitful” and that “Even though there was a very limited amount of time, I was able to directly tell a large number of people about the state of affairs in Okinawa as well as my thoughts.
I want to put this to good use towards future endeavors.”
During this visit to the U.S. the governor met with members of both the Senate and House of Representatives, who are in the middle of working out the defense authorization bill for the 2020 fiscal year (October 2019 – September 2020), which decides the general framework for the U.S. national defense budget.
The governor informed Congress members of problems such as the soft ground and active fault line found at the proposed construction site for the new base, issues with construction technology, and the long delays for completing the base.
Additionally, Tamaki commented, “I told them that an investigation and expense audit was necessary by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
It was very meaningful to be able to tell them to rethink the return of MCAS Futenma and new base construction at Henoko.”
Tamaki also met with experts in diplomacy, defense, and economics, saying, “There was a very productive exchange of views about the effects the changes in the U.S.-Japan alliance as well as the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region would have on the U.S. military bases in Okinawa.”
Reflecting on the speech he gave at Stanford University, he said, “I told many people about the base problem in Okinawa.
I also told them about thinking what they should be doing as concerned people, and the importance of solving problems by having dialogue to better understand one another.”
However, the speech was attended by less than 100 people, and it could be said that there was still some issues around the hosting of the event.
After delivering his statement at the Naha airport, Governor Tamaki declined to answer questions.
(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)