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Maehara, lawmakers study base realignment plans

Date Posted: 2011-07-14

A group of lawmakers accompanied former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to Okinawa for a weekend meeting with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima in another attempt to persuade local leaders to accept the Japan-U.S. agreement to transfer the Marine Corps’s Futenma air station from Ginowan City to sparsely populated northern Okinawa.

Maehara brought along the former parliamentary Secretary of Defense Akihisa Nagashima, former defense chief Gen Nakatani, and Shigeki Sato, a House of Representatives member of the New Komeito Party. Nagashima, a ruling Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker, asked the governor to accept moving the base to Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago City.

Okinawa’s political leaders are opposed to the relocation attempt, demanding the central government abandon the idea of keeping Futenma on Okinawa. The nine lawmakers also met with Nago City Assembly members to garner support for shifting the base to the northern Okinawa community. While on Okinawa, the group also examined Shimojishima, an island close to Miyako that’s a candidate for a future Japanese base that would be used for airlifting supplies from Japan to other parts of Asia during an emergency.

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