The governor of Okinawa, Yasuhiro Tamaki, is visiting Guam and meeting with military officials and Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.
Tamaki is the first person with an American parent to lead Okinawa. He has been very vocal about reducing the U.S. presence in Okinawa.
He is particularly against the construction of the planned Henoko base site, which needs to happen if the transfer of Marines to Guam is to occur.
Tamaki also wants a meeting with U.S. officials on what steps to take following a referendum that rejected a relocation plan for an American military base in Okinawa.
The referendum is not legally binding but Tamaki believes it must be respected as indicating the will of the people of Okinawa.
None of this tension, however, was on display during Tamaki’s visit to Guam on Thursday when he was hosted by Joint Region Marianas, Andersen Air Force Base,
and U.S. Naval Base Guam leadership.
The military officials said the Marine relocation effort has been in planning for more than 10 years, and the current program established by the Security Consultative Committee in 2012, is now in progress.
“As Commander, Joint Region Marianas it is our honor to welcome and speak
with Governor Tamaki during his time on island,” said Rear Adm. John Menoni,
commander, JRM, in a release. “We remain committed to our agreement with the government of Japan to relocate Marine Corps forces to the island, and we are grateful to show the progress we’ve made in this endeavor. We are also committed to
being good neighbors and partners with the people of Guam, the Legislature
and the Government of Guam, and to continue our partnership to ensure
Defense Program Review Initiative (DPRI) projects related to the Marine
Corps relocation are on track.”
After a meeting with Menoni and Brig. Gen. Gentry Boswell, JRM Deputy
Commander and 36th Wing Commander, on Andersen Air Force Base, Tamaki
viewed Marine Corps DPRI-related projects on the base, including the site
infrastructure project and the North gate entrance funded by the government
of Japan, and numerous aviation-related projects.
Tamaki then traveled to the future site of the Marine Corps base along roads
being improved through the Defense Access Roads program. Here he observed
ongoing construction of the main cantonment, portions of which are funded by
the government of Japan as part of their contribution to the relocation of
Marines to Guam. The governor also visited Naval Base Guam and viewed Marine Corps projects and government of Japan-funded sites, including the completed
pier-side welcome center and the site of a new medical and dental clinic.
“We are honored to host Governor Tamaki today and to show him the progress
being made in Guam in keeping with the Japan-U.S. bi-lateral agreements,”
said Menoni in a news release. “Today, Mr. Tamaki saw that we continue to make steady progress on the construction of facilities for the Marines.”
The Japan government’s contributions to date is more than $2 billion, nearly
two-thirds of their commitment to that progress.
“We believe the necessary facilities will be completed on time to allow the
movement of Marines to begin in accordance with the U.S.-Japan agreement,”
said Menoni. “We are grateful that Governor Tamaki and his delegation took
the time to travel to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will be meeting with Tamaki today in a courtesy visit 9:30 a.m. at the Office of the Governor, Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex.
This will be the first meeting between the two governors.