Japan's new defense minister has sought public understanding of the government's efforts to reduce the burden of Okinawa prefecture's hosting of US military bases.
Taro Kono met Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki on Sunday during his first visit to the prefecture after assuming his post earlier this month.
They discussed the government's plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, currently in a densely populated area, to a coastal district within the prefecture.
Governor Tamaki said the people of Okinawa stand firmly against the relocation plan.
He urged the central government to immediately stop a landfill project now underway in the coastal Henoko district of Nago City, and begin talks with the prefecture on the issue.
Kono said the planned relocation aims to close down Futenma Air Station and return the land.
He called on the governor to begin studying possible ways to make the best use of the land for the region's future.
Kono said the government will do whatever it can to reduce the US military burden on the prefecture.
He stressed that the government will make further efforts to explain the seriousness of the security situation in Northeast Asia.