Naha (Japan): Japanese Prime Minister
Naoto Kan made a visit to Okinawa Prefecture Wednesday, amid
strong criticism from locals for an agreement reached between
Tokyo and Washington in May, to relocate a key US military
base within the island prefecture.
This is Kan`s first visit to Okinawa since he took office
earlier this month. He attended a ceremony to mark the 65th
anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa that killed
over 200,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians in the closing
days of World War II.
Kan is expected to hold talks with Okinawa Gov Hirokazu
Nakaima later today.
The premier says he will respect the Japan-US accord
announced May 28 to move the US Marine Corps Futemma Air
Station from a crowded residential area to a less populated
coastal area in Okinawa, despite calls from locals to relocate
the base outside the prefecture.
Kan also says his government will make every effort to
ease the burden on the people in the prefecture, which hosts
over 70 per cent of US military facilities located in Japan.
Today also marked the 50th anniversary of the bilateral
security treaty -- the reason behind the US military presence
in Japan -- entering into force.
Kan`s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, stepped down to take
responsibility for the political confusion partly caused by
the Futemma relocation issue.