Press Conference by Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu
Friday, April 9, 2021, 1:49 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Futenma Air Station Relocation Issue
Yomiuri Shimbun, Fukuda: April 12 will mark 25 years since the agreement between Japan and the United States on the return of Futenma Air Station. Please tell us your thoughts again on the significance of the relocation to Henoko and the importance of Henoko for the defense of the Nansei Islands.
Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs: It is true that April 12 will mark 25 years since the agreement. Futenma Air Station is located in an urban area and is surrounded by residences and schools. I believe that we must absolutely avoid the indefinite use of Futenma Air Station, which is said to be the most dangerous base in the world. For example, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld of the United States pointed out the danger on the spot during his visit to Futenma. I believe this recognition on avoiding the indefinite use of Futenma Air Station is shared by the Government of Japan and the local people.
The Government of Japan believes that steadily advancing the construction toward the relocation to Henoko will realize the complete return of Futenma Air Station as swiftly as possible and lead to the elimination of its danger.
On various opportunities, including the recent Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (Japan-U.S. "2+2") on March 16, we have successively confirmed with the United States that relocating the Futenma Air Station to Henoko is the only solution.
In addition, Okinawa, which includes Henoko, is an extremely important location for security, for reasons such as the fact that it is close to various areas in Asia and located on Japanese sea lanes. Furthermore, from the perspective of the defense of the Nansei Islands, Okinawa has an irreplaceable geographical advantage for security, and I believe that stationing the U.S. Forces in Okinawa is central for the deterrence capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
MOFA has been closely cooperating with the United States for the steady implementation of the realignment of the U.S. Forces Japan, including relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko. We will continue to exert all efforts for the complete return of Futenma Air Station as soon as possible and to reduce the burden on Okinawa.