Okinawa governor meets with Leon Guerrero to discuss buildup

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On Friday morning, the governor of Okinawa met with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to discuss issues pertaining to the military buildup and the relocation of several thousand U.S. Marine Corps members to Guam.

In the midst of ongoing construction projects in preparation for the relocation of around 5,000 Marine Corps personnel to the island, the Governor of Okinawa sat down with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in a closed-door meeting to talk about the buildup.

On Friday morning, the governor of Okinawa met with Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to discuss issues pertaining to the military buildup and the relocation of several thousand U.S. Marine Corps members to Guam.

Over the course of this week, Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki has been visiting several areas in the Marianas — such as Saipan, Tinian, and just recently Guam — to gain insight on the progress and address some of the concerns related to the buildup.

The son of a U.S. Marine and an Okinawan waitress, Tamaki has adopted a strong opposition against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa and has called for a sharp reduction in the U.S. military’s presence in the prefecture, which holds two-thirds of the U.S. bases in Japan despite Okinawa occupying less than 1 percent of Japan’s land area.

Yesterday, Tamaki met with military officials to tour the ongoing construction projects at Finegayan and the wharf at the Naval Base and expressed his support for the relocation.

“I understand the importance of Japan-US security arrangement and I agree with our alliance. Our alliance has contributed to peace and stability not only in Japan, but the East Asian region. I told this to Governor Guerrero,” Tamaki said.

He also stressed that he is not requesting to remove all bases from Okinawa and just wants to give Okinawan lands back to its people.

Tamaki added that Governor Leon Guerrero expressed her concerns about the lack of accessibility to H2B visas to bolster the progress of the buildup.

“This issue is hindering the buildup not only on the bases, but also commercial and public sectors,” he said.

Tamaki says that he will cooperate with Leon Guerrero to appeal to both the Japanese and U.S governments to resolve the issue.

Regarding concerns raised by constituents in the Marianas about the buildup’s potentially adverse effects, Tamaki says that protections for endangered animal species and cultural assets would have to be implemented and that both the U.S. and Japanese governments should listen to such issues.

Tamaki says that while the military did not give him a concrete timeline of when the construction will end, the Marines are expected to be relocated to Guam by 2024.

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Amanda Dedicatoria
Amanda is a reporter at the Pacific News Center and writes about issues concerning the military, environment, and education. She has a background in journalism that spans from her time as a VIBE intern for the Pacific Daily News and the editor-in-chief of Triton’s Call. As a college student, she studied journalism and graduated with honors from the University of Guam. She also has experience in photography as well as documentary work and strives to make sure that her stories are fair and engaging. When she isn’t on the job, she’s usually at the gym, playing video games, or baking a batch of cookies.