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Shimojijima Airport suddenly attracting plenty of attention

Date Posted: 2010-01-14

Shimojijima Airport in Miyakojima City is an airport primarily used for training pilots, but this week it’s gained plenty of attention as a potential replacement location for a controversial U.S. Marine airbase now in Ginowan City.

The Minister of Defense, Hirofumi Hirano, People’s New Party Chief Shizuka Kamei and Sakihito Ozawa, the Minister of the Environment, have all made the trek south from Tokyo to study the Shimojijima Airport firsthand in recent days, after the Chief Secretary of the Democratic Party Japan suggested the airfield as a good spot to relocate Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Okinawa’s main island.

Mikio Shimoji, the People’s New Party Policy Research Council Chairman, also visited the airport, while party officials noted “Shizuka Kamei is not on an official visit to Miyakojima.” Local residents immediately voiced opposition to the idea of moving Futenma to Miyakojima and Shimojijima Airport. U.S. Marines have dismissed the notion of Shimojijima as a replacement airfield location, noting it’s too far away from the Marines who would require air transportation. Marines say any replacement airfield for Futenma must be within a half-hour flying time of the combat Marines.

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