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Hirano denies telling Nakaima of any official plan for White Beach

Date Posted: 2010-04-15

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary is backpedaling and denying reports he ever told Okinawa’s governor of any official plan for relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to a site on reclaimed land near White Beach.

Hirofumi Hirano says reports the government was abandoning plans to relocate the controversial airbase to White Beach because of complaints by local residents is not true because no such proposal was ever made to begin with. Reports last week had Hirano telling Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima of the plan to construct a manmade island between White Beach and the Katsuren Peninsula. “I’m not aware of what it is you are talking about,” he told reporters. “I haven’t spoken of any specific site with the governor. We talked about how the media are reporting some options, but never discussed any official plan of the government.”

The current Democratic Party of Japan-run government has rejected the May 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Japan, negotiated by the then leadership controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party, to relocate Futenma to the Henoko District of Nago City in northern Okinawa. The plan reportedly developed by the central government was to build the island, which would have two 3,600-meter runways and heliports to support U.S. Marine Corps aircraft.

Hirano is now refusing to detail government ideas with reporters, who are pressing for details as the May deadline for a new site looms closer. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised to make a decision on where to relocate Futenma by the end of May, and the controversy swirling around the White Beach concept has been deemed sufficiently troublesome it could even force the Prime Minister from office. Hatoyama is ignoring the political concerns, and now says his government “will definitely resolve this issue”.

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