Ryukyu Shimpo reported on a meeting between Defense Minister Iwaya and Okinawa Governor Tamaki in Naha yesterday. The paper said that although the defense chief’s visit to Okinawa was apparently intended to display the central government’s policy of providing “detailed explanations” on the FRF construction, the two politicians ended up engaging in heated discussions on the pros and cons of the realignment project. The daily described the meeting as tense and said it marked a sharp contrast to the minister’s “cordial” meeting earlier in the day with pro-FRF Nago Mayor Toguchi, during which Iwaya reportedly pledged to make “utmost efforts” to meet the municipal leader’s funding request for a local waste disposal project.
Meanwhile, Okinawa Times highlighted DM Iwaya’s tour of MCAS Futenma the same day, which included a courtesy call on Lt. Gen. Clardy, the Okinawa Area Coordinator. The paper opined that as Lt. Gen. Clardy is only one among hundreds of U.S. military generals, it was not appropriate for the nation’s top defense official to visit a “lower-ranking” U.S. official. Iwaya reportedly told the press that he was unconcerned about the “disparity” in their ranks, explaining that while the session may have run counter to normal diplomatic protocol, Gen. Clardy traveled to Futenma from Camp Courtney to meet with him.