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2010年5月 5日 (水)

社説:首相の沖縄訪問 今さら「県内移設」では

(Mainichi Japan) May 5, 2010
Hatoyama's political credibility on the line in Futenma relocation
社説:首相の沖縄訪問 今さら「県内移設」では

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's first visit to Okinawa Prefecture since he took office in mid-September last year was met with bitter protests from local residents over his declaration that the government will relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture.

The prime minister first met with Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, Okinawa Prefectural Assembly President Zenshin Takamine and Susumu Inamine, mayor of Nago, the proposed location of a substitute facility for the U.S. Marines' Futenma base.

"It's unrealistic to fully relocate the base out of the prefecture. I need to ask Okinawa residents to shoulder a portion of the burden. I'm also asking Tokunoshima Island (in Kagoshima Prefecture) to bear some of the burden of Futenma's relocation. And for that, I wish to express my apologies to the people concerned," Hatoyama said.

The remarks were made in response to Okinawa residents' earnest call for relocation of the base out of the prefecture.

This is the first time that Hatoyama has declared that his administration is seeking to relocate Air Station Futenma within the prefecture. It is in sharp contrast to his declaration during the House of Representatives election campaign last year and during Diet sessions that he would seek to move the base out of Okinawa.

The government is now studying a plan to build a runway on a so-called quick installation platform (QIP) on piles driven into the seabed off the U.S. military's Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago as a substitute facility for Futenma, while shifting some of the base's airborne troops or their training facility to Tokunoshima.

Gov. Nakaima urged Hatoyama to quickly eliminate the danger that Futenma base has posed to the local community and step up efforts to relocate it out of the prefecture. Nago Mayor Inamine voiced stiff opposition to shifting the base to Henoko.

Many Okinawa residents obviously view Hatoyama's policy shift -- which came shortly before his self-imposed deadline for settling the matter -- as a betrayal, and are highly unlikely to accept relocation of Futenma within the prefecture.

In his Diet debates with other party leaders on April 21, Hatoyama said he will place priority on negotiations with the U.S. government on the selection of a relocation site over consultations with local communities that would host the substitute facility. It is around that time that the plan to build a substitute facility off Henoko, using the QIP method, surfaced. It was worked out by modifying a plan previously agreed on between Tokyo and Washington to build a substitute runway by reclaiming an offshore area of Camp Schwab.

In the eyes of Okinawa residents, Prime Minister Hatoyama appears to have chosen to relocate Futenma base to Nago -- bowing to U.S. pressure to implement the previously agreed on plan -- and collude with Washington to continue shifting U.S. bases from one location to another inside the prefecture. Moreover, Hatoyama failed to live up to his declaration in December last year that he would seek to move the base to an area other than Henoko.

The prime minister is also scheduled to meet with the mayors of the three towns on Tokunoshima Island and ask them to accept the relocation of some of the Marines stationed at Futenma or their training site. However, the three mayors have already voiced strong opposition to the plan.

Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa has demonstrated that it is extremely difficult for him to settle the Futenma issue by his self-imposed May deadline. The worst-case scenario -- in which the U.S. Marine Corps will continue to use Air Station Futenma -- is growing increasingly realistic.

Hatoyama has stated that he will stake his position on the settlement of the issue by the end of May. If he fails to settle the issue by that deadline, his political leadership will certainly be called into question.

毎日新聞 2010年5月5日 2時32分


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