PM to visit Okinawa on Saturday
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to visit Okinawa on Saturday to try and win understanding from local government officials for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps’ air base from Futenma to Henoko.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Abe would exchange views with Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima and the mayors of Futenma and Henoko.
However, Abe is likely to run into opposition. Over the last three years, prime ministers, defense ministers and other central government officials have made trips to Okinawa one after the other to try and convince locals to accept the relocation plan. Nakaima has expressed frustration that Tokyo never listens to the wishes of locals.
This week, political leaders from Okinawa and their supporters staged a protest rally in Hibiya Park in Tokyo against the heavy U.S. military presence in their prefecture, but were unable to meet Abe.
Abe, who advocates close security ties with the United States, has said his government will stick to the original agreement to move the base from Futenma to Henoko. That agreement was reached in 2006 when Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was in power.