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SECURITY > Okinawa

Top Kantei official holds talks with Okinawa leader

  • November 7, 2021
  • , All national papers
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All national papers wrote on Sunday that Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno visited Okinawa over the weekend for talks with Governor Tamaki. The senior Kantei official dismissed the governor’s call for the immediate suspension of the FRF construction plan by saying: “The steady implementation of the initiative will lead to the complete reversion of MCAS Futenma and the removal of the danger associated with the base as soon as possible. The relocation initiative is the only viable solution.” In his meetings with officials and members of the base-hosting community Matsuno underscored the administration’s strong commitment to the relocation project.

 

Since all four of the LDP candidates who ran in the general election to represent Okinawa successfully secured seats either in their single-seat districts or the proportional representation bloc, the Kishida administration is increasingly confident about the prospects for the Nago mayoral and gubernatorial races in Okinawa. Tokyo believes that victories for LDP candidates in those races would give a major boost to the FRF initiative.

 

According to Asahi, the opposition candidates’ dismal performance in the Lower House election came as a shock to Governor Tamaki and other base opponents. They are now concerned that the “All Okinawa” anti-base campaign initiated by former Governor Onaga is losing steam. The daily claimed that the only effective tool the governor has left for derailing the FRF construction is his authority to approve or decline the central government’s request for FRF design changes associated with the soft seabed off Camp Schwab. The landfill work on the remaining three-fourths of the envisaged area cannot commence without the governor’s say-so.

 

Nikkei wrote that since the number of votes cast for the LDP candidates exceeded that for their All Okinawa opponents, some LDP officials speculated that residents are displeased that the central government’s spending for the island economy has declined under Tamaki’s governorship. However, All Okinawa officials conjectured that the election results pointed to a shift in people’s focus from the base issues to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Noting that former Prime Minister Suga played a key role in the central government’s dealings with Okinawa when he was chief cabinet secretary under the Abe administration, Sankei and Yomiuri noted that attention is focused on whether Matsuno will be able to follow suit. While Suga was held in awe by government bureaucrats on account of his autocratic style, Matsuno is known for taking a “low-key, bottom-up” approach.

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