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SECURITY > Okinawa

There remains a wide gap between Okinawa, Tokyo on Henoko relocation

  • December 12, 2018
  • , NHK
  • JMH Summary

NHK’s “Close-up Gendai+” on Wednesday carried a report on the Henoko relocation issue. The network pointed out that many Okinawans feel that the central government and mainlanders do not listen to them or care about the pain and fear they experience living amidst U.S. bases. However, the central government is now moving ahead with the construction of the FRF in Henoko despite Okinawa’s opposition since it regards this as the only way to remove the danger posed by the Futenma base.


Okinawa is slated to hold a referendum on Henoko relocation on Feb. 24, with the municipal governments tasked with its administration. However, public opinion is divided on this referendum, with the legislatures of some municipalities, Ginowan, Ishigaki, and Miyakojima among them, passing resolutions in opposition to the plebiscite. While the referendum results are not legally binding, the government is concerned about the impact on the construction work.


While the GOJ-USG agreement calls for the return of the Futenma base by 2022, the Okinawa government claims the relocation will take until 2032 and require enormous additional funding. Okinawa plans to employ all available means to stop the construction work. It is claiming that the soft seabed in certain parts of the reclamation site will require changes to construction plans, and this will require its approval, which it will refuse. However, the central government is poised to use all available means, including legal measures, to thwart Okinawa’s attempts to delay the relocation.


The program ended with an NHK Okinawa reporter stating that while Okinawans may have different opinions on Henoko relocation, the one thing they share in common is that due to their experiences during World War II and 27 years of U.S. occupation, they don’t want to host any U.S. bases. On the other hand, an NHK political reporter said the central government thinks that returning the Futenma base, which will make life safer for  local residents and make a large tract of land available for development, and dispersing the drills held at MCAS Futenma to elsewhere in the country will be tangible ways of reducing Okinawa’s base-hosting burden. The program anchor concluded that the Japanese should regard the conflict between Okinawa and Tokyo as a national security issue that affects all of them. 


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