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Okinawa Gov.-elect wants US Marines to train outside Japan

Okinawa Governor-elect Denny Tamaki smiles during a group interview with media outlets in the prefectural capital of Naha on Oct. 1, 2018. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

NAHA -- Okinawa Governor-elect Denny Tamaki said on Oct. 1 here that he wants U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Japan's southernmost prefecture to train outside the country and will request that Tokyo negotiate with the U.S. government to achieve that goal.

"If the U.S. Marines train overseas, there will be no need for the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma or its relocation," he said in a group interview with media outlets. The Marin Corps base is currently slated to be moved within the prefecture from the city of Ginowan to the Henoko district of the city of Nago.

Tamaki argued that transferring the Marines' ground and air units that comprise the majority American military facilities concentrated in Okinawa out of Japan "will not punch a hole in the deterrence" role the U.S. forces play to protect Japan against attack from other countries.

Regarding the transfer within the prefecture of the Futenma base promoted by the central government, Tamaki said he will request that Tokyo set up a venue to discuss the issue with the Okinawa Prefectural Government. Okinawa retracted its permission to carry out the land reclamation of an area off the coast of Henoko, but the central government is poised to take the case to the court to push construction forward.

"They should not seek a judicial decision based on their predetermined plan for transfer," Tamaki said. "They should discuss the problem in order to solve it."

Tamaki won the election on Sept. 30 with 396,632 votes -- a record high for a gubernatorial election. He was named as a successor to the late Governor Takeshi Onaga, who died in August amid continuing opposition to the base transfer.

(Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau)

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