Suga-Onaga meeting fails again to narrow gap

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga met for the second time at a hotel in Naha, Saturday, for the fourth round of “intensive” talks between the central government and Okinawa Prefecture.

However, the two sides failed to narrow the gap over the government plan to relocate the MCAS Futenma to Henoko.

In an effort to soften Okinawan resistance to the deal, the central government had decided to earmark more than ¥300 billion in the fiscal 2016 budget to promote Okinawa’s economy. The sum matched what the prefecture had requested in the budget talks, but it did not seem to have had any effect on Okinawa’s unbending stance regarding the relocation plan.

The central government suspended the work at the relocation site on Aug. 10th for a period of one month to give time for “intensive” talks between the two sides. The suspension is scheduled to end Sep. 9th, and Suga made it clear from the beginning of the meeting that the central government intends to resume the work immediately after the suspension period ends.

The only thing both Suga and Onaga agreed on is that they recognize that safety risks posed by the MCAS Futenma must be eliminated, and operations on the air station must be suspended at the earliest possible date.

At a press conference after Saturday talks, Suga said that he does not see the government extending the suspension, as suggested by some on the Okinawa side.

00:35 26 Feb , 2024