Naha: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said the government will seek to ease the burden on Okinawa Prefecture of hosting US military bases, but suggested he will make such efforts only in a manner that does not harm the Japan-US relationship.
"I would like to make every effort to ease the burden while conforming with the Japan-US agreement," Kan said in a meeting with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, referring to the bilateral accord reached last month to relocate a key US base within the prefecture despite calls from locals to move it out of the southern prefecture.
Nakaima told Kan that the "situation in Okinawa is tough”, apparently pointing to growing frustration among people in the prefecture with the central government`s policy over the relocation of the US Marine Corps` Futenma Air Station.
Kan, on his first visit to Okinawa since assuming office earlier this month, attended a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, in which over 200,000 soldiers and civilians died in the closing days of World War II.
Kan`s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, stepped down to take responsibility for political confusion partly caused by the Futenma relocation issue.
Hatoyama had pledged to move the base outside of Okinawa or even Japan but later admitted that it would be a difficult goal to achieve, in a move that led to the departure of the Social Democratic Party from the ruling coalition led by his Democratic Party of Japan.