Politics of the Futenma Relocation Issue – Why Did Okinawa Accept the Henoko Plan in 2006?

Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science


On May 11th, 2006, the ten-year-long controversy to determine the relocation site for the Futenma Airbase (the Futenma controversy) saw its temporary repose when the Governor Inamine signed the note of confirmation, allowing the construction of a military base on the northern part of the main island of Okinawa called Henoko. To many domestic and international audiences who have been following the Futenma controversy, the Okinawan governor’s decision to sign the agreement was very surprising. The news was astonishing to many because of the complex history between Okinawa and the U.S. military bases and existence of strong anti-U.S. military base sentiments on the island. Why did Okinawa Prefectural Government decide to accept the 2006 Henoko relocation plan in spite of the long-standing anti-U.S. military base sentiments in Okinawa? In order to find an explanation to the puzzle, this project organized a series of analyses examining the ten-year-long controversy through the lens of Bureaucratic Politics and Social Movement. At the end of the paper, the analyses reveal the difficult situation for Okinawa to influence the base policies in Japan due to its economic dependence on the national government and national government’s determination to maintain the presence of military bases on Okinawan land. Meanwhile, considering the current situation of the Futenma controversy as of 2013, this project shows the need for the Japanese government to change the way it manages the U.S. military facilities on its national land by paying more attention to local communities’ voices and concerns toward the military presence.