Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Meets with Okinawa Governor

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks at a press conference in January.

NAHA (Jiji Press) — Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi held talks with Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki on Sunday at the Okinawa prefectural office in Naha.

It is the first time for Hayashi to meet with Tamaki since he assumed the post of chief cabinet secretary in December last year.

Hayashi is believed to have explained to Tamaki the central government’s policy on the planned relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, located in a heavily populated area in Ginowan in the prefecture, to the Henoko coastal district in Nago, another city in the prefecture, hoping to win understanding from the prefecture side.

On Jan. 10, the central government began work to reinforce the undersea soft ground on the Oura Bay side, or the northern side of Cape Henoko, necessary for carrying out landfill work as part of the base relocation project. The move came after Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito approved in December last year a design change needed to start the ground improvement work in place of Tamaki, who had refused to sign off on the change, following legal battles between the central and Okinawa prefectural governments.

Earlier on Sunday, Hayashi met with Nago Mayor Taketoyo Toguchi and Ginowan Mayor Masanori Matsugawa, respectively.

The Nago mayor conveyed to Hayashi local residents’ concerns that the base relocation may cause traffic congestion and noise. “It’s important to address residents’ concerns and protect their lives,” Toguchi said.

“We would like to hear local voices and reflect them in the government’s efforts,” Hayashi told the mayor.

The chief cabinet secretary looked at the Futenma Air station, as well as the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Air Base, which straddles the Okinawa towns of Kadena and Chatan, from the outside.

Hayashi also visited the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman in the prefecture, where a savage ground battle was waged in the late stage of World War II, and laid flowers at the National War Dead Peace Mausoleum in the park.