Japanese govt. pledges again to reduce US base burden on Okinawa

Japan's top government spokesperson has said the administration of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio will do all it can to reduce the burden placed upon the prefecture of Okinawa as the host of the majority of Japan's US military bases.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi Yoshimasa made the pledge at a ceremony on Saturday to mark the opening of a park built on part of the US military's Camp Zukeran in Okinawa.

The residential quarter of the US base, spanning Okinawa City and Kitanakagusuku Village, is expected to be formally returned to Japan in fiscal 2024 or later.

However, the site will be open as a public park from Sunday.

In his speech, Hayashi said this is the first attempt to open a US base site to local people for their recreational and communal activities ahead of its formal return to Japan.

He said he believes the project will bring greater convenience to local people and help facilitate plans for future use of the site.

Hayashi said the park is one example of the government's efforts to reduce the burden placed on Okinawa, which he touted as one of the administration's top priorities.