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Friday, Dec. 2, 2011
Noda apologizes for axed official's Okinawa gaffe
By MASAMI ITO
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda apologized in front of the media Thursday over an "extremely inappropriate" remark a Defense Ministry official made in relation to the Futenma base relocation in Okinawa.
Okinawa Defense Bureau chief Satoshi Tanaka was fired Tuesday after allegedly saying in a bar in the presence of reporters, "Before you rape someone, do you tell her you're going to rape her?"
Tanaka made the remark in response to questions over the timing of the environmental impact assessment the government plans to submit to Okinawa by year's end, a vital step in the contentious relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
"His dismissal is a matter of course," Noda said. "I once again offer my heartfelt apologies for the hurt this has caused the people of Okinawa."
During the Thursday afternoon news conference to mark the passage of the third extra budget and related bills, Noda also asked for public acceptance of provisional corporate and income tax hikes to fund reconstruction in disaster-hit Tohoku.
"As we are all living in the same country, we must all share the massive burden that has arisen from the reconstruction efforts," Noda said. "I again ask for the public's solidarity and understanding over sharing the burden now, rather than passing it on to the next generation."
While Noda voiced his determination to speed up reconstruction as winter sets in, he also stressed his Democratic Party of Japan administration has other pressing issues, including hiking the sales tax to help pay for rising social security costs.