Government and Nago's mayor urge resident to accept new U.S. base plan
Ignoring residents' disagreements, Okinawa's Nago City mayor and the
central government have agreed to accelerate reaching a conclusion on the
plan to construct a state-of-the-art U.S. air base with a 2,700-meter long
runway on coral reefs near Nago.
Nago City Mayor Kishimoto Tateo and State Minister in charge of Okinawa
Affairs Omi Osamu held talks on December 4 in Tokyo and agreed to request
administrative committees in Nago City to support the plan in complete
disregard of the December 1997 referendum in which a majority of the voters
rejected the new base construction plan.
Miyagi Sachiyo, representative of the Nago Council against the
Construction of the U.S. On-Sea Heliport, said, "We are shocked to find out
how big the new base will be. The mayor's unilateral decision to allow the
base to be constructed on the coral reef is unacceptable. We will not allow
him to give the green light to the plan by reneging on his own promise and
in disregard of our opinion."
Mayor Kishimoto's move suggests that he even broke his public promise
that he would respect citizens' opinion in dealing with the matter, said
Akahata of December 5.
In June, the central government presented the consultative committee (the
government, Okinawa Prefecture, Nago City and other local organizations)
with eight plans for the new base and three technological methods. But in
the following meetings, residents one after another spoke against the plan.
In December 1999, Kishimoto accepted the new base plan on condition that
the new base as a relocation of the U.S. Futenma Air Station may not be used
for more than 15 years. He has argued that if the government doesn't make a
clear-cut support for the proposal, he would stop supporting the relocation
Since his proposal of a 15-year use term is now actually unrealistic
because of the rejection by the U.S. president, the mayor is urging the
residents to accept the plan soon. (end)