(Sankei: February 19, 2016 – p. 1)
In an exclusive interview with Sankei Shimbun, Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe revealed that Tokyo had suggested the building of fisheries facilities and environmental conservation projects on the Senkaku Islands to the national government on eight occasions. He said he hopes that the national government “makes a decision on the strategic utilization of the islands at an early date.”
The Senkaku Islands of Ishigaki city, Okinawa were nationalized in September 2012.
Some 1.4 billion yen of the donations collected by then Governor Shintaro Ishihara in April 2012 for the original plan to purchase the islands has remained unused and in limbo.
Masuzoe pointed out that unless the national government comes up with a policy, Tokyo will not be able to authorize the expenditure, so he hopes for an early policy decision.
With regard to China’s threat, such as the intrusion of its government ships into Japanese territorial sea, Masuzoe said: “It is best if the U.S. continues to declare that the Senkakus are covered by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.” He thus stressed the importance of engaging the U.S.
He added: “This is much more meaningful than building any structures on the Senkakus. I believe the Security Treaty is our most powerful weapon.” He indicated that this threat should first be removed through deterrence provided by the Japan-U.S. security alliance.
On the issue of joint military-commercial use of the Yokota base (straddling Fussa City and other municipalities of Tokyo), Masuzoe noted that “the Olympic Games will be our only opportunity.” He indicated his intent to work with the national government to take advantage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in dealing with this issue. (Slightly abridged)