NAHA, Okinawa Pref.,: People in Okinawa Prefecture, home to the bulk of US bases in Japan, have expressed hopes that the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the US presidential election will lead to a reduction of the base-hosting burdens on the southernmost prefecture.
Tatsuya Gomi, a 45-year-old corporate worker who lives near the US Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in a congested area of Ginowan, Okinawa, said he had been worried that “something may happen” under the administration of US President Donald Trump because of his hardline approaches toward China and other countries.
Noting that drills at the Futenma base have been intensifying, Gomi said he hopes that the United States will “relax its tough stance and make things calm” under the new administration of Biden, who declared Saturday his victory in the presidential election.
The Japanese government, based on an agreement with Washington, plans to move the Futenma base to a replacement facility to be built in the Henoko coastal area of Nago, also in Okinawa. About 70 percent of all US military bases and facilities in Japan are located in Okinawa and the prefectural government has been demanding the Futenma base be moved out of Okinawa.
Takemasa Kinjo, 63, who lives in Henoko, said, “I know that there’ll be no change in the base relocation plan, but I hope that Mr. Biden will think about Okinawa, even if only slightly, and try to listen to feelings of Okinawans.”
Morimasa Kimura, 81, in Naha, the prefecture’s capital, said, “The Futenma base, which poses dangers to local citizens, should be relocated to somewhere else as early as possible.”
At the same time, Kimura voiced concerns that issues related to US bases in the prefecture may not be resolved under the Biden administration.
“There was not much progress with regard to the base issues under the administration of former US President Barack Obama,” Kimura said. “It may be the same this time.”