Okinawa Governor Urges Defense Minister to Scrap Training Site Plans

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Okinawa Governor Urges Defense Minister to Scrap Training Site Plans

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has called on Defense Minister Minoru Kihara to retract plans to build a Self-Defense Force training site in his prefecture. The government is aiming to bolster defenses in the nation’s southwestern islands, citing the need to enhance SDF capabilities in southwestern Japan due to China’s growing presence in the East China Sea. The proposed training site, located in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, has sparked concerns among residents about noise issues and potential accidents, leading them to call for scrapping the project. Governor Tamaki emphasized the need for the government to review the plan and take the voices of local residents seriously. Kihara, on the other hand, stressed the urgency of reinforcing defense capabilities based on the national security documents and appeared determined to proceed with the divisive project. The governor also renewed his call for suspending reclamation work related to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to Nago, with Kihara expressing determination to reduce Okinawa’s base burden and reinforce defense capabilities in the region. Kihara's visit to Okinawa marks his first trip to the main island since taking office in September, which is notably overdue for a newly appointed defense minister.