(Yomiuri: January 25, 2016 – p. 2)
By Takashi Imai in Washington
Although the U.S. government was closely watching the result of the mayoral election in Ginowan City in Okinawa, it has indicated that regardless of the outcome of the election, the U.S. will maintain its position that the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City is the “only solution” and will move forward on this policy.
A Department of Defense official said that the Ginowan election “is a local election in Japan, so the U.S. government is not in a position to make comments.” He also stressed that “the U.S.’s position on the base issues in Okinawa remains unchanged.” Along with the Futenma relocation project, the implementation of the return of U.S. military facilities and sites south of Kadena Air Base will continue.
The U.S. government agreed to advancing the schedule for the return of military facilities and sites last December. Although certain U.S. military officers were negative about this, the U.S. government showed willingness to meet the Japanese government’s request to reduce Okinawa’s base-hosting burden as much as possible before the Ginowan election and the House of Councillors election.
It has been nearly 20 years since the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed on the return of the Futenma base [in 1996], and 10 years have passed since the final report on U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) realignment, which included the plan to relocate the Futenma base to Henoko, was issued. The U.S. government is highly appreciative of the Abe administration’s steady implementation of the Futenma relocation plan and is expected to continue cooperating with the Japanese government.