Okinawa Gov Takeshi Onaga will visit Washington soon after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office Friday, hoping to convey to the new administration his opposition to a plan to move a U.S. air base within the island prefecture, the local government said Monday.
It is the third time that Onaga will visit the U.S. capital since he was elected governor in 2014 on a pledge to oppose the long-stalled plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa.
According to prefectural government officials, Onaga will visit Washington between Jan 31 and Feb 4 with the aim of directly contacting officials representing the new administration before its security policies are fleshed out.
He is eager to make it clear to the Trump administration that people in Okinawa are against the relocation of the Futenma base from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago, the officials said.
Onaga plans to deliver a speech at George Washington University on Feb 2 on the history of U.S. bases in Okinawa and the current situation of the prefecture that hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan. He may also meet members of congress and experts.
Okinawans are frustrated by the heavy burden they have shouldered for decades. Many want the Futenma base to be relocated outside the prefecture and are concerned with noise, crime and accidents linked to U.S. bases.