TOKYO, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that his government will seek to relieve the burden of Okinawa Prefecture for hosting the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan, local media reported.
Speaking at the first council meeting on Okinawa affairs, Abe said the government will make "all-out" efforts to ease the southernmost prefecture's burdens, while maintaining a U.S. military deterrence in the region by station in the prefecture, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency.
Abe also vowed to promote local development, saying the prefecture has potentials that could become a "driving force in revitalizing the Japanese economy," Kyodo cited Abe as saying.
Relations between Okinawa prefectural government and Japan's central government chilled due to the relocation issue of the U.S. Futenma Air Base.
Despite strong opposition from local residents and government, Japan and the United States agreed during Abe's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama last month that to proceed with the plan that to move the air base within the prefecture.
According to the plan, the Futenma base will be moved to a less- populated area in Okinawa, which hosts more than 70 percent of U.S. base in Japan, from its current location, a crowed residential downtown.
Okinawa residents want the base to be moved outside the prefecture.
At a press conference after the meeting, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima also expressed his reluctance to attend the ceremony of "the Sovereignty Restoration Day" on April 28, saying it was called as "day of insult" in Okinawa.
On April 28, 1952, Japan recovered its sovereignty but Okinawa was still under U.S. control until it was returned to Japan in 1972.
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