Nakaima Declares Opposition to Henoko Plan

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tokyo -- After many months of ambiguity, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has now declared openly and explicitly that the US Marine airbase at Futenma must be relocated outside of Okinawa Prefecture and that the Henoko Plan must be abandoned.

Nakaima is expected to incorporate this demand formally as a campaign pledge in advance of the November 28th gubernatorial elections.

Nakaima's main opponent in that race is expected to be Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha, whose anti-base credentials are unquestioned. Governor Nakaima, in fact, is probably making this pledge in order to take away his rival's main campaign issue.

Explaining his decision to take this final step in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, Nakaima said, "We've demanded the national government provide an explanation and show a solution that would satisfy prefectural residents, but it has failed to do so."

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has repeatedly suggested that he would honor the May 28th US-Japan Agreement by which the DPJ re-endorsed the former plan to build a new US Marine airbase at Henoko beach, Nago.

Many observers, however, doubt that Tokyo is really prepared to authorize construction in the face of what is expected to be fierce local resistance. Almost every major politician in Okinawa except for Nakaima had already made their opposition to the relocation plan perfectly clear, and the incumbent governor now joins the overwhelming majority.

However, in light of the fact that both of the expected candidates are now coming out clearly against the Henoko plan, the central government is working to set up a third candidate. These efforts are being spearheaded by People's New Party Secretary-General Mikio Shimoji, who confirmed to reporters this evening that he was stepping up efforts to find a viable third candidate to challenge both Nakaima and Iha.

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