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SECURITY > Okinawa

Okinawa bracing for Suga using stick but no carrot in pursuing Futenma relocation

  • September 17, 2020
  • , Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo
  • JMH Summary

Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times reported extensively on the launch of the Suga administration, including the appointment of former Defense Minister Kono as the minister in charge of Okinawa affairs and former Health Minister Kato as the cabinet’s point man on issues related to reducing the base-hosting burden. The papers also noted that Suga retained Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Sugita and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Izumi, both of whom worked behind the scenes as liaisons between Okinawa and Tokyo under the Abe administration.

 

Okinawa Times said these appointments show that the Kantei will take the lead in addressing the U.S. force realignment and economic reconstruction in the southernmost prefecture, expressing concern that as Kono was known as a “draconian cost-cutter” while at the helm of the Defense Ministry, he probably would not hesitate to reduce central government subsidies for Okinawa. The paper also pointed out that when Suga was chief cabinet secretary, he unabashedly linked Tokyo’s economic assistance for the island economy to local support for Futenma relocation and other base realignment initiatives. Ryukyu Shimpo projected that Prime Minister Suga may be even more “high-handed” than his predecessor in moving forward with the FRF construction off Camp Schwab, quoting an unnamed prefectural assembly member as saying: “The Suga administration will no longer use a carrot-and-stick approach. The carrot will probably be gone. It will only use the stick, and Okinawa will get hurt.”

 

In a related story, Ryukyu Shimpo wrote that Okinawa Affairs Minister Kono is likely to visit Naha on Sept. 19 for talks with Governor Tamaki.

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