Okinawa's governor pleads for reduction in U.S. forces
Monday, November 17, 2003
NAHA, Okinawa -- Okinawa's governor pleaded with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Sunday to remove some of the 28,000 U.S. forces stationed on this Japanese island and ease the environmental impact of military facilities.
In a meeting at his offices, Gov. Keiichi Inamine told Rumsfeld he understood that on matters of defense he had to defer to the national government in Tokyo. But he urged Rumsfeld to accept that Okinawans bear too much of Japan's burden as hosts of Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps bases.
"It has been 58 years" since Japan surrendered to U.S. forces to end World War II, Inamine said through an interpreter, and the U.S. military presence has become an economic and social impediment.
The Pentagon chief reminded Inamine that "this part of the world has seen peace" with U.S. forces present.
"We've listened," he said politely, but firmly. With that, Inamine made a final comment and the talks ended.