Japan’s prime minister pledges to keep U.S. military base in Okinawa

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that the U.S. military base in Okinawa will be relocated to Okinawa despite criticism from local politicians and authorities.

Kishida said he will try to gain the “understanding” and approval of the local population given the importance of relocating the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, according to sources close to the matter.

Kishida is scheduled to go ahead with the relocation plans following the agreement reached between Tokyo and Washington in 1996. However, influential politician Denny Tamaki, opposed to relocation to Okinawa, has succeeded in renewing his mandate as governor of the prefecture.

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Tamaki, for his part, has insisted that his main objective as part of the election campaign is to stop the construction of a new U.S. military installation in Okinawa, highlighting the differences between the central government and local authorities on this issue.

“It is undeniable that I have been elected by the people who oppose the plan, which shows that the true feelings of the Okinawan people have not changed,” he said, according to reports from the Kiodo news agency.

Tamaki has previously asserted that the region faces heavy pressure for hosting about 70 percent of the U.S. military installations deployed in Japan.

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