The Prime Minister Attends the Okinawa Reversion 40th Anniversary Ceremony and Other Activities
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited Okinawa Prefecture to attend the Okinawa Reversion 40th Anniversary Ceremony.
After arriving at the Naha Air Base of the Self-Defense Forces, the Prime Minister observed the units of the Ground, Maritime, and Air Self-Defense Forces and gave words of encouragement to the Self-Defense Forces members.
Later, the Prime Minister received the Plan for the Promotion and Development of Okinawa from the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Mr. Hirokazu Nakaima, at a hotel in Ginowan City.
Following this, the Prime Minister attended the Okinawa Reversion 40th Anniversary Ceremony held at the Okinawa Convention Center. The Reversion Ceremony, hosted jointly by the Government of Japan and Okinawa Prefecture, was attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the House of Councillors, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the United States Ambassador to Japan, in addition to Prime Minister Noda and Governor Nakaima.
The Prime Minister said in his address, "Of greatest importance as we seek to resolve the various challenges that Okinawa currently faces is to listen earnestly to the voices of the people of Okinawa. The new establishment of block grants, which provide a high degree of flexibility. The greatest ever increase in budget allocation for the promotion and development of Okinawa. A variety of special taxation measures. These are just some of the outcomes of the Government's attempt to reflect to the maximum degree the wishes of Okinawa. In addition, based on the basic plan that is based on the laws that have been determined by the Government, today Okinawa Prefecture has completed and approved the Plan for the Promotion and Development of Okinawa. I have just recently been presented with this brand-new plan by Governor Nakaima. The Government will also make every effort to ensure the realization of the plan.
As well as working to achieve the promotion and development of Okinawa, it is the fundamental mission of the national government to ensure the safety of our people, including the people of Okinawa. While the role played by the Japan-U.S. security arrangements continues to be of importance, given the ever-increasing challenges in the security environment in the regions surrounding Japan, I am duly aware of the excessive burden placed on the people of Okinawa by the concentration of U.S. bases in the prefecture. I reiterate my pledge to reduce in the near term the burden imposed by military bases on Okinawa in specific ways that are apparent for everyone to see, while maintaining deterrent capabilities.
We now stand forty years on from the reversion of Okinawa. It is Okinawa that will be the driving force for Japan as a whole, creating a role for itself at the forefront of the Asia-Pacific era. It is we who are responsible for creating this future. There is no doubt that the aspirations of the people of Okinawa for peace, and their globally-minded spirit as a "bridge between nations" will be a tremendous asset in the development and growth of Okinawa in the 21st century. It is precisely because we are now continuing to face the challenges of recovery and reconstruction from the unprecedented damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and seeking to achieve the rebirth of the Japanese economy that we look to Okinawa with great expectations. I believe that the further development and growth of Okinawa will contribute to the development of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole."
Following the ceremony, a reception was held, at which a traditional "sake barrel opening" was conducted and "Ryukyuan classical dance" was performed.