In an effort to rebuild trust that was said to have been undermined during the past three years under the previous administration between the local government of Okinawa and the central government, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is making a one-day visit to the prefecture to meet with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima.
The main agenda of the meeting is believed to be primarily the long-stalled plan to move the U.S. military bases. The central government is planning on applying for land reclamation in the coastal area of Henoko within Okinawa as relocation area for the military bases. Since what is involved is publicly owned water, Nakaima’s permission is necessary; but he is wary to give approval because of fierce opposition from local residents and organizations who do not want to continue hosting a big bulk of the military bases in Okinawa. Another possible topic of discourse is the deployment of MV-22 Osprey aircrafts at the Futenma base last October, which angered locals anew because of its record of crashes.
As Japan is a close ally of the United States, and surely it wants to maintain said relationship, the issue regarding the military bases in Okinawa is a very sensitive matter to tackle. There is some pressure from the west, for sure. In fact, a source close to Abe has said that the U.S. is hoping that the government will file the application for reclamation as soon as possible. More telling is the central government’s designation of 300 million yen for the development of the prefecture in its draft 2013 budget, made to improve ties with Okinawa and create a venue for discussion regarding U.S. military base matters.
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan