Abe, Okinawa Governor Meet Over Base Relocation

Abe, Okinawa Governor meet over base relocation

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has demanded that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suspend landfill work for the relocation of a US military base within the southern prefecture. The prime minister asked the governor for his understanding of the relocation project, while agreeing to continue dialogue with the prefecture.

Abe met with Tamaki on Tuesday in Tokyo and discussed relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, to the less-populated Henoko district in Nago City.

Tamaki reiterated that a majority of votes cast in last month's prefectural referendum opposed the relocation project. He called for the suspension of landfill work in waters off Henoko for about a month to allow for more discussion.

Abe replied that the relocation work began after various consultations and is aimed at avoiding potential dangers to the heavily populated area around the Futenma base.

Tamaki also told Abe that an endangered species of dugong was found dead on Monday in waters off the northern coast of the prefecture. Tamaki asked Abe to suspend the landfill work to allow for further investigation.

The prime minister expressed regret over the discovery and said he is ready to discuss the relocation issue with the prefecture.

The Governor told reporters after the meeting that he would like to see the ongoing work at Henoko stopped to allow for further negotiations. He added that he is hoping for a prompt reply from the central government.