Miyamoto hopes to succeed as 'bridge-builder' with U.S, military
Stars and Stripes December 18, 2004
NAHA, Okinawa — The top official at the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Okinawa said Tuesday he is here as a front-line mediator between Okinawa and the U.S. military on the island.
Yuji Miyamoto, 58, the newest ambassador in charge of Okinawan affairs, replaced his predecessor, Sadaaki Numata, last week.
“One of my major missions … is to negotiate with the military on Okinawa as a representative of government of Japan,” he said during his first news conference since assuming the post. “U.S. military-related problems are extremely delicate issues.”
Through the long history of the U.S. military’s presence on the island, various frameworks have been built one by one, creating the present system and situations, he said.
“Having said that,” he said, “the reality that 75 percent of facilities and installations of U.S. forces in Japan are concentrated on Okinawa has … put a burden on the people.”
“We are facing a crucial time for the security of entire Japan,” he said. “It is also a very important time for Okinawa,” as the United States and Japan work to realign U.S. forces in Japan. He said he would work to bridge a Tokyo-Okinawa perception gap over that realignment and other issues.
Miyamoto, a 35-year diplomat and former Japanese ambassador to Myanmar, is the fifth ambassador in charge of Okinawa.
The Japanese government created the post in February 1998 as part of its response to anti-military sentiment on Okinawa following the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemembers.
Miyamoto said his office helped the U.S. military community on the island deepen its understanding of Okinawa and its people. “We are also making efforts to prevent any military-related incidents or accidents,” he said.
“Whether or not my post was necessary — I ask you to judge on the day when I leave Okinawa,” he said, saying he is committed to serve as a bridge-builder among the military, Okinawa and Tokyo.