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Okinawa distressed by PM Kan’s Futenma relocation commitment

Date Posted: 2010-06-11

Prime Minister Naoto Kan says he’ll honor the decision made by his predecessor to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa, and Okinawans were quick to react following a Tuesday evening news conference.

To make the transition possible by the 2014 projected completion date for building a new airfield in Nago City’s Henoko district and Camp Schwab on Oura Bay, he will need support from Okinawa, and Okinawa leaders say they’re not in any mood to support the plan. In fact, they’re quickly making statements opposing the move. Hirokazu Nakaima, Okinawa’s governor, says it is very hard for Okinawa to accept the relocation plan. Nago City’s Mayor, Susumu Inamine, is more blunt, again saying ”the feasibility of the relocation plan is zero.”

Nakaima is expected to stonewall any dealings on the plan until after November’s gubernatorial election, and that could prove even more troublesome if a more staunchly opposed candidate defeats Nakaima. Even attempts to move some of the Marine air functions off Okinawa to mainland Japan have been soundly rejected. The government would like to move some of Futenma’s missions to Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture 200 kilometers north of Okinawa, but residents there are equally opposed to having the new base.

Kan has already assured U.S. President Barack Obama that he’ll support last month’s bilateral agreement between Japan and the United States on moving the base that endorsed an earlier agreement in 2006.

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