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Friday, Dec. 3, 2010
Nakaima presses Kan to move U.S. Marine base out of Okinawa
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, who was re-elected Sunday, urged Prime Minister Naoto Kan Thursday to relocate the U.S. Marine base at Futenma outside the prefecture, rather than to the Henoko district of Nago as agreed upon by the U.S. and Japan in May.
It was Nakaima's first meeting with Kan since his victory in the Okinawa gubernatorial election.
"I said in my election platform that I will seek the review of the Japan-U.S. agreement," said Nakaima. "Please work toward relocating it outside the prefecture."
Since Japan is enjoying the benefits of the Japan-U.S. alliance, the entire nation and its people should think of ways to resolve the problem, he said.
Kan, however, maintained that the government intends to relocate the Futenma base to Nago, and urged Okinawans to accept this position.
"We will do our utmost to ease the burden on Okinawa," Kan said. He also expressed hope to visit Okinawa at the earliest possible date.
However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku hinted in a news conference that it may be difficult for Kan to visit Okinawa in the near future due to North Korea's bombardment of a South Korean island.
Nakaima also asked Kan to start discussing economic aid for Okinawa in a government panel on policies for the prefecture. A program based on such funds is due to expire in 2012.
The government is planning to hold the panel meeting by the end of this month.
Bases top budget
The government said Wednesday it will place priority on financial support for U.S. forces in Japan when it compiles the state budget for the next fiscal year later this month.
The process, now completed, arranged 189 proposed projects to be financed by a special allotment worth around ¥1.3 trillion under the fiscal 2011 budget into four categories, from high-priority "A" to "D." Japan's host-nation support to the U.S. military got an A ranking.
The allotment was originally meant to stimulate the economy by, among other things, improving employment conditions. Giving the A ranking to projects that do not appear to have specific domestic economic benefits, also including aid for Afghanistan's reconstruction, has sparked skepticism about the effectiveness of the screening process itself.