Okinawa governor raps Japanese gov't over US base relocation

Updated: 2015-09-25 14:40


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Okinawa governor raps Japanese gov't over US base relocation

Takeshi Onaga, Governor of Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, attends a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, on Sept 24, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

TOKYO - Governor of Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga on Thursday rapped the Japanese government over the controversial US base relocation issue, criticizing that Okinawan's democracy and human rights are not guaranteed by the central government.

Onaga, who just returned from the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, told reporters here at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan that all requirements from the prefecture to the central government are not fully responded by Tokyo in recent meetings between the local and central governments.

The governor is an opponent against a Japan-US agreement to relocate the controversial US Futenma airbase, which is known as the most dangerous air station in the world, from crowded Ginowan city in the prefecture to a less populated coastal area of Henoko in Okinawa's Nago city.

However, land reclamation work for Futenma's replacement has been carried out as Onaga's predecessor Hirokazu Nakaima, who overhauled his election pledge opposing the relocation plan, agreed to the landfill project in the Henoko area.

"We have never provided our land willingly," Onaga told reporters here and the UN commission earlier this week, adding that "the US military took our land by force."

Onaga beat Nakaima in the Okinawa prefectural election in 2014 and vows to "stop the new base construction using every possible and legitimate means." The governor has decided to halt the ongoing landfill work in Henoko earlier this month.

However, top spokesman of the Japanese government Yoshihide Suga expressed Tokyo's anger on Thursday in a press conference over Onaga's Geneva speech and said the central government is making all-out efforts to help the island prefecture.

For his part, Onaga emphasized that Okinawan's human rights are being neglected and slammed Defense Minister Gen Nakatani's recent remarks which hinted that Okinawa is a territory that can be sacrificed.

"We were shifted from one person to the other over and over again without ever getting a solution," Onaga said, referring his unhappy meetings with central government's officials.

Okinawa covers less than 1 percent of the Japanese territory, but holds over 73 percent of US bases in Japan. The prefectural government and local residents called for long time to move the Futenma airbase out of the prefecture, but their appeal is rejected by the Japanese and US governments.