Defense Minister postpones planned 2-day Okinawa visit

Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto has postponed a two-day visit that was supposed to begin early this week.

Officials say the official visit was delayed at the request of the Okinawa Prefectural Government, which is formulating new plans to oppose deployment of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft to Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.   The prefectural government told Tokyo it wants to observe how the Osprey test flights at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station go before they invite the defense minister.

Although Morimoto has indicated he still hopes to visit Okinawa later this week, he faces an uphill task in persuading local Okinawa authorities to give their blessings to the Osprey’s deployment to Futenma.  Many Okinawans still oppose the MV-22 deployment to Futenma, which sits in the heart of densely populated Ginowan City.

Morimoto wants to meet separately with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima now that the central government has declared the tilt-rotor aircraft safe to operate in Japan, and approved test flights.  The Defense Minister also plans to meet with Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force.

10:42 05 Mar , 2024