Similar campaigns in Okinawahttp://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201011050365.html
BY KEIBUN GOTO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
NAHA--The two major candidates expected to run in the Nov. 28 Okinawa gubernatorial election agreed the Futenma air station should be moved out of the prefecture, but they differed on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
In a debate Thursday organized by The Asahi Shimbun, both incumbent Hirokazu Nakaima, 71, and his challenger, Yoichi Iha, 58, a former Ginowan mayor, said the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma could not be relocated to somewhere else in Okinawa Prefecture.
Nakaima said Futenma should be relocated outside the prefecture and have "all the Japanese people take on the responsibility since they enjoy the fruits of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty."
Iha argued that Futenma should be relocated outside of Japan, saying, "The troops based at Futenma should be moved to Guam."
The Democratic Party of Japan-led government is seeking to relocate Futenma, currently in Ginowan in the prefecture, to the Henoko district of Nago, also in Okinawa Prefecture, under an agreement with the United States after gaining the approval of local communities.
However, with both major candidates in the gubernatorial election opposed to a Henoko move, the deadlock will continue regardless of who emerges victorious.
The two candidates did have differing views on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
"The treaty should be maintained." Nakaima said. "While it has contributed to peace in East Asia, including Japan, the region is still far from stable."
Iha, meanwhile, said, "Rather than deepening the relationship with the United States in a manner that incorporates Japan within U.S. strategy, efforts should be made to convert it to a friendship treaty while placing importance on ties with our neighbor China."
Nakaima was asked about his previous stance favoring a conditional relocation of the air station to somewhere in Okinawa.
"The consensus among those who contributed to my win (four years ago) was that a move within Okinawa was unavoidable," he said. "However, in the Nago mayoral election in January, an individual opposed (to moving Futenma to Henoko) was elected. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said that at the least Futenma should be moved outside Okinawa, but it reverted (under the Japan-U.S. agreement in May).
"That angered the Okinawa people because there was no explanation that would satisfy them."
Nakaima said the burden on Okinawa is excessive, and that moving Futenma to a location somewhere between Hokkaido and Kagoshima would be the quickest way to remove the dangers of Futenma to Okinawa civilians.
"There is almost no possibility of (a move within Okinawa). The possibility cannot be zero because until January, Nago had said OK and the central government had implemented economic stimulus measures based on that stance," he said.
Iha stressed that he would call on both the Japanese and U.S. governments to give up on a Henoko move, and explained why he was calling for moving Futenma to Guam.
"That is in line with the realignment of the U.S. military after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," Iha said. "In 2006, Japan and the United States agreed to move Futenma to Henoko and transfer 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. However, according to U.S. public documents, Marine aviation corps will also move to Guam. The precondition of my argument is that those aviation corps should move to Guam, not Henoko.
"Seeking a location outside of Okinawa to move Marines destined for Guam would be a waste of time. Fundamentally, the number of U.S. troops in Japan should be reduced.
"Over the 50 years (since the revision of the security treaty) has there ever been a threat to Japan? The U.S. military has used the bases in Japan to conduct war around the world. Keeping the Marines to serve as watchdog will not contribute to Japan's national security."