December 28, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
(Tokyo) On the morning of December 27, Governor Takeshi Onaga had a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, where he called for prior discussions to be held before the government resumes construction work for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko. However, several hours after the meeting, the government resumed construction for the new base. The governor criticized the move as proceeding forcefully and said, “Things cannot move forward so simply. I hope to take [countermeasures] in various ways. I absolutely won’t let the new base be built in Henoko.” He added, “I will need to take drastic measures [in order to prevent the base construction],” once again indicating his intent to take any means necessary to prevent the new base construction.
According to the governor, at the meeting, Suga suggested that the construction would resume swiftly, saying that discussion may be necessary but that the government’s policy is in place. Onaga said, “Okinawa has its own position. We each have our own position, and if we can’t engage in discussion, it will be very problematic, so I really hope we can discuss the issue.”
Around 2 p.m., after the construction resumed, the governor spoke to reporters again, mentioning the fact that U.S. military installations in Japan are heavily concentrated in Okinawa and expressing anger, saying, “They have kept [the bases] here for more than 70 years, and now they want to keep them here for even longer. At this rate, they might keep them here for yet another 70 years. Can they really allow this to happen to fellow Japanese citizens?”
Onaga then spoke about the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area, mentioning that when part of it was agreed to be returned as part of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement, there was no plan for the remainder to be used for Osprey training, and a survey of the impact of Osprey training was left out of the environmental impact assessment. “This time, [with no prior discussion], the same thing is happening,” Onaga said, expressing his view that the government is pushing forward forcefully with the construction.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)