October 23, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
On October 22, during his visit to Okinawa, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met with Governor Denny Tamaki; Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, commander of the U.S. troops in Okinawa and Okinawa Area Coordinator; and mayors of the municipalities hosting U.S. military bases in Okinawa. The governor and the defense minister discussed the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, Nago City, and the Naha Port Facility; however, they failed to reach an agreement. Governor Tamaki noted public opinion and urged to halt the new military base construction. On the other hand, Minister Kishi insisted that “relocation to Henoko is the only viable solution.”
Tamaki stressed, “The prefecture’s proposal should be considered seriously and [the government] should take swift action to eliminate the dangers posed [to residents] by Futenma Air Base.” In response, Kishi explained the importance of maintaining deterrence capabilities.
Governor Tamaki requested the formation of SACWO, a framework for three-party discussions. However, the defense minister responded, “Since the Japanese government negotiates with the United States, it is not considering SACWO at this time.”
Tamaki also referenced the idle Naha Port and requested it to be returned, independent from the Urasoe City relocation plan. Minister Kishi disagreed by stating, “The agreement was that the facilities would be returned after building an alternative facility in Urasoe City and moving its functions there. Fulfilling those agreements is the fastest path to its return.”
(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)