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Futenma-Kadena merger isn’t going to happen

Date Posted: 2011-10-07

A top American military commander has said it again; there are no plans for combining Futenma Marine Corps Air Station and Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command says a merger is “not on the table” in U.S. plans for realigning military forces on Okinawa. “This is something that has been looked at in the past by both countries,” Admiral Robert Willard says, “but it is not on the table in terms of the U.S. Pacific Command recommendations.”

The admiral, speaking in Washington, was reacting to queries about Okinawan opposition to relocating Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago City in northern Okinawa. “We are very, very aware of the local area politics and the opposition expressed by local mayors and local communities in regards to many issues about Kadena,” Willard explained. He said he’s aware of American lawmakers’ discussions about possibly using Kadena as a joint base, but reiterated it isn’t a consideration.

The U.S. and Japan have both said they will press forward with the current relocation plans, which call for constructing a replacement airfield at Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa, with two V-shape runways, each 2,500 meters long, extending into nearby Oura Bay. That project was supposed to have been finished by 2014, but the two countries have slipped the completion target date.

Willard says “whether or not we get back into the issue, and whether we have discussions with the Pentagon in the future, or with leadership on Capitol Hill, will remain to be seen.”

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