Hatoyama Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 30 (May 14, 2010)
Yukio Hatoyama's "Yu-Ai" -- Message from the Prime Minister
During the holidays, on May 4, I visited Okinawa.
I met Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima at the prefectural office and told him honestly that in order to ensure our country's safety under the current Japan-US alliance, it would be difficult, in spite of our best efforts, to relocate all of the functions of Futenma Air Station outside of Japan or Okinawa, and that while I felt extremely sorry, I had to ask him to accept the relocation within Okinawa.
At Futenma No. 2 Elementary School, I was able to hold a dialogue with the local residents. This elementary school is situated right next to Futenma Air Station. I observed this myself from the roof of the school building. Airplanes and helicopters fly over houses and condominiums, and even during my visit the roaring sounds of airplanes flying overhead were heard several times.
I heard the compelling voices of the school teachers and guardians of the students. "The disruptive roar during classes, the possibility of accidents and crimes attributable to the presence of the air station -- we want to see them all eliminated at the earliest possible date. Let our children lead a safe school life." In order to get rid of the dangers and noise, we must find a relocation site as soon as possible.
I also met with the heads of 19 municipalities in the prefecture where US military facilities are located. The mayors gave opinions such as, "We are looking for relocation of the air station outside of Okinawa as expressed during the mass rally in Okinawa. There should be deliberations on security as a whole, and all regions of the nation should bear a fair share of the burden."
Additionally, last Friday, I met with the Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture and three mayors of Tokunoshima at the Prime Minister's Office. I expressed my sincere apologies for causing them concern, and asked if Tokunoshima can shoulder some of Okinawa's burdens.
Currently, Okinawa, which makes up 0.6 percent of Japan's land area, accommodates 74 percent of the US bases in Japan including Futenma Air Station. The issue of the military bases is one which the people of Japan must all think about for the sake of this country's safety in light of the still unstable situation of the Northeast Asian region. I would like to seek everyone's understanding on this and kindle the people's willingness to share the burden.
Since taking up office approximately eight months ago, we have been
conducting sensitive negotiations with the United States from
various angles. I will stand at the forefront and make wholehearted
efforts toward a settlement at the end of May in order to lighten
the total burden on the people of Okinawa, while keeping the Japan-
US alliance intact and maintaining Japan's national security.
* Profile of the Prime Minister
- A Joint Meeting of the General Meeting and the Integrated
Strategy Meeting of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Social
Responsibility for a Sustainable Future (May 12, 2010) and other
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