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Gov’t not planning to reconsider Osprey deployment to Saga Prefecture

  • 2015-01-16 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: January 16, 2015 – p. 6)

 

 Despite the announcement by Saga Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi that he will wipe the slate clean on the issue of accepting Osprey deployment to the Saga Airport in Saga City, the government stressed on Jan. 15 that it will proceed with the plan without reconsidering. The situation could develop into a conflict between the governor and the administration as seen in the issue of the Futenma relocation.

 

 In a press conference on Jan. 15, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga pointed out that the deployment to Saga of the Ospreys to be introduced by the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) will be “extremely important for security.” He further emphasized, “We would like to continue to explain patiently in order to gain the governor’s understanding and cooperation so the deployment can be implemented promptly.” On the same day, Defense Minister Nakatani expressed to the press his desire to meet with Governor Yamaguchi.

 

 The government earmarked in the FY2015 budget 51.6 billion yen for procuring five Ospreys. A total of 17 Ospreys will eventually be deployed to the Saga Airport. The budget also included 10.6 billion yen for site acquisition around the airport for the base and the tarmac.

 

 Though the administration intends to expedite the site acquisition and facility development, aiming to deploy the Ospreys by FY2019, Governor Yamaguchi argued in a press conference on Jan. 14, “There are so many points of contention.” The Saga prefectural government will take time to reexamine the issue by listening to the views of prefectural residents.

 

 The administration originally asked the prefecture to accept the temporary transfer of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Ospreys from the Futenma airfield in addition to the GSDF’s Ospreys. On account of opposition from both the U.S. and Saga prefecture, the government changed the plan to the relocation of U.S. military training to the prefecture.

 

 In November of last year, former Saga Governor Furukawa said, “The prefectural government is working toward accepting the deployment,” indicating his positive stance on the deployment. After that, the former governor resigned and ran as a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate for the Lower House election held in December, and was elected for the first time. In the gubernatorial election held in January after Furukawa’s resignation, Yamaguchi defeated a candidate who approved of the Osprey deployment and was backed by the ruling LDP and the Komeito party.

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