WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- New U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty expressed his eagerness Friday to visit Okinawa after his posting to Tokyo around mid-August so as to "better understand" issues involving U.S. military bases in the southernmost island prefecture.
Speaking at his first news conference since securing Senate confirmation on July 13, Hagerty said, "I indeed intend to go to Okinawa and to visit all of our military installations. I have a great fondness and appreciation and gratitude for the communities that host our military and make our military a fabric of their community life."
Asked about the impasse over the planned relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture, he said, "My objective is to get to Japan and better understand the conflict that may exist."
"I think that the United States should play a constructive role," the 57-year-old businessman-turned-envoy said.
Many Okinawa residents oppose a Japan-U.S. plan to move the Futenma airfield from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated Henoko coastal area of Nago. Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga has demanded that the base be moved outside the prefecture.
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