(Asahi: April 15, 2015 – p. 4)
By Nanae Kurashige in Beijing
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who is visiting China as a member of the Japan Association for the Promotion of International Trade (JAPIT), has appeared to be nervous all the time, choosing his words carefully. This is his first visit to China amid the media attention on him for clashing with the national government over the relocation of the U.S. forces’ Futenma Air Station. It seems that he is also wary of possible criticism for being “pro-China.”
In his introduction of Onaga to an audience of 140 Japanese and Chinese entrepreneurs, the Chinese emcee stated at the first meeting of the Japan-China business cooperation conference organized by the JAPIT and other groups on the morning of April 14 that “the governor of Okinawa is also the focus of great attention in China.” Onaga lowered his head meekly.
Onaga was the only delegation member presented with a gift of books from the Chinese, aside from former House of Representatives Speaker Yohei Kono and Ambassador to China Masato Kitera, which indicated China’s solicitude. However, he did not speak at the conference and has refrained from mentioning the base issues when he spoke to reporters.
According to a source traveling with the delegation, Onaga had told his aides before the trip that he will not discuss the base issues at all during his China visit. A source on Japan-China relations pointed out that “both the governor and the Chinese side are taking care not to pour cold water on the delegation’s goal of promoting economic exchanges.”