Marine Commandant weighs in on Henoko progress

The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps has expressed concern that if the construction of the replacement facility for MCAS Futenma is delayed, the planned transfer of Marine units from Okinawa to Guam could be adversely affected.

According to press reports, Gen. Joseph Dunford said Tuesday at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that, “We have to have the Futenma replacement facility in order for us to leave our current Futenma air station, and back the redeployment to Guam as well, and properly support the Marines that are in the area.”

The construction of the replacement facility in Henoko is facing stiff opposition from local residents and the new Okinawa Prefectural Government who insist that the Futenma facility should be closed and air station moved outside the prefecture.

Back in 2012, the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to separate the Futenma relocation project and the Marines transfer to Guam. Dunford’s remarks linking the two issues are expected to at least raise some eyebrows in Okinawa.

Dunford stressed that the progress in constructing the replacement facility for MCAS Futenma “is going to be critical” for the rebalancing initiative of the Marines in the Asia-Pacific region in Guam, Hawaii and Australia.