Okinawa Governor Traveling to US

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has left Japan for Washington to attend a symposium on military base issues.

During his 5-day visit, he plans to directly lodge a protest with the US Defense Department over the alleged rape of a woman by 2 US sailors.

The symposium was organized by Okinawa Prefecture. It will be attended by security experts from the 2 countries. The agenda items include the security situation in Okinawa and the relocation of the US Marine Corps’ Futenma air station.

Nakaima plans to explain that the people of Okinawa are demanding the withdrawal of the plan to deploy the controversial Osprey transport aircraft at the Futenma air station.

He also plans to explain that Okinawa is demanding the relocation of the base outside the prefecture and the return of the site.

Nakaima plans to visit the Defense Department and the State Department to directly lodge a protest over the alleged rape of a woman by 2 US soldiers.

Nakaima spoke to reporters before his departure from Narita Airport on Sunday. He said he wants to hear the US experts’ view on Okinawa and exchange opinions with them. He added that he intends to explain the situation in Okinawa, including the deployment of the Osprey and the rape incident.

Hatoyama Makes U-turn on Okinawa Stance

Japan’s embattled Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama faced a barrage of criticism on Wednesday after his U-turn on the relocation of a US base, with calls mounting for him to quit ahead of key elections in July.

Major newspapers railed against his decision to scrap plans to move an unpopular US airbase entirely off the island of Okinawa after months of dithering over the issue that angered close ally Washington.

“The government’s recent disarray appears shameful,” the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial. “Needless to say, Prime Minister Hatoyama bears the greatest responsibility.”

On his first visit to the sub-tropical island since he took office in September, Hatoyama on Tuesday apologized for his failure to meet his pledge to remove the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Okinawa.

Read the rest of the story: Japan PM under fire over US base U-turn

U.S. says no way on relocating Futenma Base to Tokunoshima Island

The United States has rejected the idea of relocating the U.S. Futenma base to Tokunoshima Island, a contentious site favored by the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, because it is too far from Okinawa-based marine units, a government source said Thursday.

Hatoyama has suggested his government will pursue the relocation of the air station to the Kagoshima Prefecture island about 200 km to the northeast, but Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Thursday it appears resolving the issue by the end of May as promised is “extremely difficult.”

A visit by Hatoyama to the city of Kagoshima on May 15 has been in the works, other sources close to him said, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano denied that the prime minister would go to Kagoshima Prefecture in connection with the Futenma issue.

Read the rest of the story: U.S. says no way on Tokunoshima

Futenma Overshadows Hatoyama’s One-on-One with Obama during Nuclear Summit

Japan, one of the postwar era’s strongest anti-nuclear voices, missed an opportunity at the nuclear summit that ended here on Tuesday to translate its commitment to disarmament into a premier spot on an emerging global agenda. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama was overshadowed by those who came to Washington with specific ideas about how to shore up the global commitment to nonproliferation.

Although the issue of nuclear nonproliferation was identified early on as a priority after Japan’s new government took office in September, Mr. Hatoyama, who was seated next to President Obama over dinner, used his one-on-one time to discuss the relocation of the Futenma Marine Air Station on Okinawa, a thorn in the bilateral relationship.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Missed Opportunity