Futenma relocation timeline again slipping

A senior U.S. Marine Corps officer has hinted that the site of an air base in Okinawa Prefecture may not be returned to Japan in fiscal 2022, the earliest possible time the United States has endorsed.

The return of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station site in Ginowan to Japan is likely to take “at least 10 to 15 years,” Maj. Gen. James Kessler, head of Marine Corps’ Installations Command, has told a subcommittee meeting of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.  Last month, the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed that the site of the Futenma base will be returned to Japan in fiscal 2022 or later.

The return will be achieved that year if the relocation of the base to the Henoko district of Nago City progresses as planned, according to the agreement. The relocation plan has drawn strong opposition from Okinawa leaders and citizens.

Kessler is the first one on the U.S. side who has acknowledged in public the possibility that the fiscal 2022 target may not be met.  Kessler added that the Marine Corps hopes to secure $47 million  over the coming three years to cover repair costs that will result from the continued use of the Futenma facility.