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Kan sticks with Futenma agreement; commits to more work with Okinawa

Date Posted: 2010-06-23

Japan’s Prime Minister is walking a very fine line, promising to take into account the opinion of Okinawans over relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa even as he’s reaffirming an intent to press forward with a May agreement between the U.S. and Japan to move the controversial airbase to the Henoko area of Nago City.

Naoto Kan, at a news conference in Tokyo, quashed reports his administration would stop negotiating with Okinawa’s government and citizens once details are worked out on shifting Futenma from densely populated Ginowan City to the mostly rural, sparsely populated northeast coast of the island. The agreement to move Futenma to Henoko and the Marines’ Camp Schwab was initially signed in May 2006, with Kan’s predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, readdressing the pact and signing a new agreement with Washington in May.

Kan says he’ll tell U.S. President Barack Obama the deal’s still on, and that his government will carry it out as earlier agreed. He is to meet with Obama during the summits of the Group of Eight major countries and the Group of 20 major economies in Canada this week. At the same time, he’s expected to remind the American president he’ll continue to consult with Okinawa residents on why the Futenma move is necessary. Okinawans are strongly opposed to keeping Futenma on the island.

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