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Okinawa, U.S. congressman agree: Marines not needed

Date Posted: 2010-09-09

Opponents of Marines in Okinawa in general, and relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station within the prefecture specifically, have found themselves a new ally in U.S. Representative Barney Frank.

As the verbal battle rages on about whether one runway or two should be built at Henoko and Camp Schwab at an airfield to replace Futenma, A Massachusetts Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank, says “we don’t need 15,00 Marines in Okinawa,” calling them “a hangover from a war that ended 65 years ago.” Frank is the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

His thinking, as explained to National Public Radio, is that if Marines are only in Okinawa to train, they should be returned to the United States to do so in an environment where C-130 aircraft and helicopter pilots have wide open terrain to use in honing flight skills. It’s an arguable point, he says, because the configurations of the U.S.-supported plan for two V-shape 1,800-meters-long runways designed for reducing noise pollution and enhancing safety is simply not viable.

The notion that one runway for takeoffs and one for landings, depending on weather and wind conditions isn’t really accurate, Frank says. He says pilots cannot change runway choices “by sleight of hand.” He says Washington’s been plotting and planning for decades to move Futenma to northern Okinawa, along with new military port facilities, to strengthen the U.S. military footprint.

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