TOKYO — U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty held a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Nov. 17. Referring to the construction of a new base in the Henoko district of Nago City, he said “that option is the only one that is being pursued (to solve the Futenma issue)” and construction needs to be promoted.
Mr. Hagerty visited Okinawa in October and November. He met with Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga in November and heard criticism of the construction of the new base in the Henoko district of Nago City. At the Tokyo press conference, the Ambassador said, “I have a great appreciation for contributions that the Okinawan community makes to the greater security of this region. The Prime Minister, the President, and the American military appreciate that as well.” Drawing on his tour of Henoko, he said, “I noted that significant progress was being made and as I am very well aware after visiting Futenma that replacement of that facility is necessary.”
Regarding handling North Korea, which continues to develop nuclear weapons, and operating the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Mr. Hagerty said, “We will maintain our readiness in a manner that minimizes the disruption or impact (on residents).”
He asserted that “the U.S. commitment to defend Japan with the full range of U.S. military capabilities is unwavering.” He stressed that the Japan-U.S. relationship is “banjyaku,” saying, “The United States will strengthen its presence in this region, and Japan will assume larger roles and responsibilities in the alliance.”