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Prime Minister to visit and talk Futenma relocation

Date Posted: 2011-10-07

Japanís Prime Minister could be making his first visit to Okinawa within the next week, as he prepares to seek favor with the prefectureís governor and the citizens.

Yoshihiko Noda says heíll be heading to Okinawa soon, to explain Tokyoís stance on relocating Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to northern Okinawa, an issue thatís proven the undoing of several previous prime ministers. He says heíll talk to Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, and also reach out to local residents, to get their understanding.

Okinawans havenít seen the 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Japan in a favorable light since it was initiated, and even though the plan would entail reducing the American military footprint on the island, it isnít popular. Noda has talked with U.S. President Barack Obama, and assured the American leader his administration will continue with plans to move the airfield. The two sides early in the summer agreed to delay the completion deadline from 2014 to an as-yet-unspecified date.

American lawmakers, including Senators Carl Levin, D-Michigan, John McCain, R-Arizona, and James Webb, D-Virginia, have said they opposed the relocation plan because of its expense. Webb and Levin visited Okinawa last Spring.

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