Senior U.S. government official Kurt Campbell said Wednesday that the situation is tough over the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air station in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan.
Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, also said that he hopes a so-called two-plus-two meeting among the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers will be held at an early date to help break the impasse in the base issue.
Campbell made the remarks at a meeting here with Japanese lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties, including Mikio Shimoji, secretary-general of the People’s New Party, the junior member of the Democratic Party of Japan-led ruling bloc, and Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a member of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party.
Shimoji told Campbell that it is difficult for Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima to accept the Japan-U.S. agreement to relocate the Futenma base, now in Ginowan, Okinawa, to the Henoko coastal district of Nago in the same prefecture. Nakaima has called for the base to be moved out of Okinawa.
Proposing that a time frame be set at three years for breaking the deadlock, Shimoji said that unless construction of a new facility to take over the Futenma base’s functions start within the time frame, the U.S. side would need to clearly tell Japan’s central government and the Okinawa prefectural government that the base should be left intact at the current site.