Tanaka low-profile in Okinawa, stance on base issue remains unclear

Mainichi Daily News
January 14, 2012

The appointment of Naoki Tanaka as Japan’s new defense minister Friday prompted some puzzlement in Okinawa Prefecture, with some local officials and residents saying they are unfamiliar with the new minister whose stance on defense matters, including the long-stalled issue of relocating a U.S. base in the prefecture, is unclear. …

But a senior Okinawa official remained wary about how Tanaka will handle the base issue. “I have no idea what stance he has on security issues. We’ll gather information (about him) from now on.”

Okinawa residents, who have been calling for easing the concentration of U.S. military facilities in the prefecture, have strongly opposed the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station from Ginowan to a less populated area in Nago’s Henoko district within the prefecture.

The people of Okinawa have urged the government to move the key U.S. base outside the prefecture, but the central government intends to implement a Japan-U.S. agreement to relocate the base within the prefecture.

“Cabinet members change one after another, but (the government’s) stance of maintaining military bases (in Okinawa) never changes,” said 61-year-old Tsuyako Watanabe, a resident of Nakijin village in Okinawa. …

In full: http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120114p2g00m0dm019000c.html