Washington nixes end of Futenma operations in 2019

There is no agreement has been between Japan and the United States to end operations at MCAS Futenma by February 2019, despite some statements by Japanese officials, U.S. Department of Defense officials say. They emphasize that the only existing agreement, signed in 2013, calls for returning Futenma in fiscal 2022 or later.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has repeatedly asked the central government to end MCAS Futenma operations within five years, and in September, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reportedly told Nakaima that operations at Futenma would end by February 2019.

However, a Defense Department official has told The Asahi Shimbun that the United States never agreed to end Futenma operations by February 2019. The official went as far as to indicate that even if Japanese officials had made such a proposal in meetings with their U.S. counterparts, such a unilateral move could not be considered an official request.

The comment suggests that Washington would not likely go along with such a proposal, and intends to continue operation at the MCAS until a new permanent home for the units on Futenma becomes available.