Japan Government puts screws on Okinawa on Henoko
In a reversal of previous statements, the Japanese government seems to have taken the gloves off in dealing with the MCAS Futenma relocation issue.
In addition to the government recently deciding to start construction of new on-land facilities on Camp Schwab, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that the Japanese government subsidies for development projects in Okinawa Prefecture are linked to resolving the dispute on the relocation plan of the MCAS Futenma to Henoko, and other issues related to the U.S. bases in the prefecture.
According to a Jiji press report, the remarks by the government’s top spokesman appear to represent a reversal of Tokyo’s official position of de-linking the development aid to Okinawa from the base issue.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference, “I believe they are linked, in the sense that we are comprehensively tackling both issues.”
Yosuke Tsuruho, who took the post of minister for Okinawa issues the previous day had made similar remarks.
Speculation among political pundits is that the remarks by the two officials could be taken as a warning that the central government will slash subsidies for Okinawa if the Okinawa Prefecture Government keeps opposing the planned relocation of the MCAS Futenma to its designated new location in Henoko.
However, Suga noted that the government would keep its earlier promise to spend at least ¥300 billion a year on Okinawa, meaning that any future cuts would not affect a number of large-scale projects currently on the way in Okinawa, including building the second runway at Naha Airport.