Small island’s politicians reject Japan PM’s private pitch on U.S. Marine base relocation
Stars and Stripes
GINOWAN, Okinawa — With his self-imposed deadline looming, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is having a tough time selling any plan for relocating air units from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
On Wednesday, he was rebuffed by politicians from Tokunoshima, an island 125 miles north of Okinawa.
During a meeting with Diet member Takeshi Tokuda and his father, Torao, a former Diet member, Hatoyama disclosed he was thinking of proposing 1,000 Marines from Okinawa be stationed at the island’s airport, a spokesman for Tokuda told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday evening.
"Although it was not clear whether the move means the transfer of units or just training, they rejected the prime minister’s idea," he said.
The meeting took place in Torao Tokuda’s Tokyo home.
Hatoyama has not publicly divulged details of his plan, for which he has set an end-of-May deadline to announce and agree on with the United States. On Tuesday, he said he was putting the "final touches" on it.
With his popularity plunging from 70 percent just after he took office in September to under 25 percent in recent polls, there have been calls for him to resign if he does not come up with a suitable alternate plan.
About 90,000 people attended a rally Sunday on Okinawa opposing any new base construction there.