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Kan promise to Obama: Futenma will go to Camp Schwab as planned

Date Posted: 2010-07-01

Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, has promised America’s president the agreement to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to Camp Schwab in Nago City’s Henoko district will proceed as planned, and then asked for U.S. support in lessening the burden on the Okinawa people caused by the troops and facilities based in the country’s southernmost prefecture.

Kan and President Barack Obama met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Summit in Canada, reaffirming the criticality of the security alliance that binds the two nations. The Prime Minister noted the alliance has played “an indispensable role” in fostering prosperity and maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region. Obama later said “we both noted the significance of 50 years of a Japan-U.S. alliance that has been a cornerstone not only of our two nations’ security, but also of peace and prosperity throughout Asia.”

The two leaders addressed the logistics and process of moving Futenma, and agreed the pact signed May 28th will go forward as planned. It calls for Futenma flight operations, now in the center of densely populated Ginowan City, be moved to the less populated coastal region in northern Okinawa. Obama is reported to have told the Prime Minister he knows the issue’s not an easy one for Tokyo, and said he’d take steps to have U.S. forces better accepted.

Okinawa’s governor expressed disdain at the actions taken by Kan and Obama during the half-hour summit sidelines meeting. “Why did they decide to bypass us, going over the heads of Okinawan people?” Hirokazu Nakaima asks. “I think a transfer to Henoko will be very difficult and bringing the plan to realization will be almost impossible,” he said. “We Okinawans would like to hear from both sides explaining about that joint statement.”

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