Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times took up a speech given by Okinawa Governor Tamaki in Tokyo yesterday, in which he urged the USG and the GOJ to hold discussions on relocating MCAS Futenma out of the island prefecture, either to the mainland or abroad. The governor expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the land minister’s decision to suspend the prefectural government’s rescindment of the landfill permit, underscoring that the central government’s move may be unconstitutional. While pointing out the major economic benefits reaped by the commercial and other use of land vacated by the U.S. military, the governor reportedly claimed that the presence of U.S. bases “has frozen” Okinawa’s economic development. He said the return of U.S. installations would allow the island prefecture to become economically self-sustainable.
In a related story, Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that Prime Minister Abe is likely to respond positively to Tamaki’s call for a meeting with him to discuss Futenma relocation at an early date, projecting that such a session will probably be arranged in Tokyo next week when prefectural governors will assemble there for an annual meeting.
Meanwhile, the two major Okinawa dailies also reported that an ordinance on a prefecture-wide plebiscite on the Futenma relocation initiative took effect on Wednesday, projecting that based on its provisions, a referendum will be held by April 30 and Governor Tamaki will decide the exact date. Ryukyu Shimpo added that earlier the Ishigaki Municipal Assembly adopted a motion voicing opposition to a referendum on the Henoko plan.