Defense Minister, Okinawa Gov. divided over Futenma base relocation issue

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, left, receives a written request from Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki at the Okinawa prefectural government office in Naha on Wednesday.

NAHA — Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki discussed the central government’s plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to the Henoko area in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Wednesday. The two met at the Okinawa prefectural government office in Naha, but failed to find any common ground.

The meeting marked the first time Hamada visited the prefecture since taking office.

Tamaki called for the relocation plan to be abandoned during the 30-minute long meeting that was open to reporters. Citing factors such as the results of the Sept. 11 Okinawa gubernatorial election, Tamaki said, “I hope [the central government] will take the public’s objections [to the relocation] seriously.”

Hamada sought Tamaki’s understanding on the plan, saying, “The relocation to Henoko is the only solution when we take into consideration the need to maintain the deterrence capabilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance and eliminate the dangers of the Futenma air base.”