Photo/IllutrationOkinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga holds a news conference after finishing his appointments with U.S. politicians and government officials in Washington on Feb. 3. (Takufumi Yoshida)

WASHINGTON--Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga’s trip to lobby politicians here to reconsider relocating a U.S. military base in his prefecture couldn't have gone much worse, shunned by the Trump administration and being upstaged back home.

New U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis aggravated his frustration by flying to Tokyo and reaffirming the relocation of the Futenma base in Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago in the prefecture as “the only solution.”

“It is extremely rude to islanders,” Onaga said of Mattis’ comment about the base relocation when the governor gave a news conference in Washington on Feb. 3 before concluding his trip.

Mattis visited South Korea and Japan from Feb. 2-4 on his first tour overseas as defense secretary.

In a joint news conference with Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Feb. 4, Mattis said of the work under way in Henoko, “During my discussions here, we agreed that our mutual efforts to build the Futenma replacement facility will continue, and it is the only solution that will enable the United States to return the current Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma to Japan.”

When Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, Onaga sent a congratulatory telegram, a rare gesture among Japanese governors.

Some Okinawa officials thought that Trump held more potential for a possible breakthrough than Hillary Clinton, who was expected to maintain predecessor Barack Obama’s policy line. Trump’s reference to a review of the Japan-U.S. security alliance also suggested room for change in the current setup in which Okinawa shoulders a disproportionate burden of hosting U.S. troops in Japan.

Onaga's recent trip, from Jan. 31, was intended to make contact with close aides to the new president to signify the local opposition to the base relocation within the prefecture. It was Onaga's third trip to the United States to highlight Okinawa’s base concerns.

The governor met with 12 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and government officials involved in handling Japanese affairs during the trip.

While he exchanged greetings with newly confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a big gathering, he could not meet with lawmakers close to Trump.

In addition, State Department officials whom Onaga met, including one in charge of Japanese affairs, reiterated Tokyo’s position that Henoko is the only solution.

The Japanese government is expected to begin additional work for the construction of the new offshore facility to assume Futenma’s functions on Feb. 6.

(This article was compiled from reports by Takufumi Yoshida in Washington and Kentaro Koyama.)