Division Remains Over Relocation of Futenma Air Station; Kihara and Tamaki End Meeting Without Progress

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, left, and Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki hold talks at the Okinawa prefectural government office in Naha on Saturday.

NAHA — Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki concluded a meeting Saturday still divided over a plan to relocate Futenma Air Station, a key U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture, from Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago. The two met at the Okinawa prefectural government office in Naha.

“Considering the deterrence capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance and the danger posed [to densely populated areas] by the presence of Futenma Air Base, relocating the station to the Henoko district is the only solution,” said the defense minister.

Tamaki rejected the plan, saying, “We request that the central government immediately halt construction and hold a dialogue with the prefectural government.”

Kihara also said at the meeting that he would reconsider a plan to build a Ground Self-Defense Force training facility on a former golf course in Uruma, Okinawa, in response to calls from residents there to do so.

Before the meeting, Kihara, aboard a Self-Defense Force aircraft, inspected the Futenma Air Station and the site of the relocation.