(Ryukyu Shimpo: January 30, 2015 – p. 1)
With respect to the plan being pursued by the government to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in Nago City, it has been learned that the Okinawa Prefectural Council for Promotion of Dezoning and Reutilization of Military Land in Okinawa (headed by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga) is making final arrangements to include the phrase “the suspension of the Futenma airfield operation within five years is requested” in a written request to the both Japanese and the U.S. governments.
The phrase “the suspension of the Futenma airfield operation within five years” was first presented to PM Abe at the prime minister’s office by former Okinawa Governor Nakaima in December 2013 immediately before he granted permission to proceed with the Henoko landfill work as a de facto condition for his approval of the Futenma relocation to Henoko. The Abe administration, which is eager to move forward with the Futenma relocation to Henoko, has emphasized that “the government will do everything it can” by making suspension within five years the centerpiece of the Okinawa burden reduction measures. However, the U.S. side has responded negatively by calling the idea a “fantasy,” so there is little chance of Futenma operation being suspended within five years.
The Okinawa prefectural and the Ginowan city governments are asking for Futenma operation to be suspended within five years regardless of progress in the relocation to Henoko. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga said on an NHK TV program aired on Jan. 11, “If we can obtain Governor Onaga’s cooperation, we certainly want to proceed (with the suspension of Futenma operation within five years),” indicating the view that relocation to Henoko must come first.