Mourners shout at Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a memorial service for the late Governor Takeshi Onaga in Naha on Oct. 9. (Eiji Hori)

NAHA--Rowdy scenes erupted at a memorial service here for Okinawa's late Governor Takeshi Onaga when a top Abe administration official reiterated the government's oft-stated promise to ease the prefecture's burden of hosting so many U.S. military bases.

The address by Yoshihide Suga, who as chief Cabinet secretary is the government's most senior spokesman, was drowned out by shouts of "Liar" and "Go home."

Suga, as well as the speakers of both chambers of the Diet, were among the approximately 3,000 people who attended the Oct. 9 service.

In delivering his eulogy, new Governor Denny Tamaki, lauded his predecessor's relentless efforts to scale back the U.S. military presence in the southernmost prefecture.

“U.S. military bases are not those that Okinawans have brought on the island on their own,” said Tamaki, who was elected in the gubernatorial election on Sept. 30 as Onaga's successor.

“Onaga worked tirelessly to end the situation in which Okinawa was forced to choose between economic prosperity and peace,” Tamaki said.

Onaga died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 67 on Aug. 8, just shy of the end of his first four-year term.

He was the first governor elected on a platform of unequivocal opposition to central government moves to build a new U.S. base in the Henoko district of Nago to take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, both in Okinawa Prefecture.

His stance led to a sharp confrontation with the Abe administration, which is forging ahead with the base relocation despite widespread opposition among Okinawans.

The memorial service was organized by the prefectural government, prefectural assembly and other entities.

Giving a speech on behalf of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Suga reiterated the central government’s longtime pledge to ease the prefecture’s disproportionate burden of hosting U.S. bases.

“We are determined to steadily produce results so as to cut Okinawa’s burden with regards to the U.S. base issue,” he said.

His speech was drowned out by screams of outrage from some members of the audience who called him a “Liar” and told him to “Go home.”

More verbal abuse was hurled at Suga as he left the venue.