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Governor warns against keeping Futenma here

Date Posted: 2011-11-04

Okinawa’s governor is standing his ground, continuing to insist that Futenma Marine Corps Air Station must be moved from this island prefecture.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has long been opposed to moving Futenma from Ginowan City to northern Okinawa, although he once was reluctantly willing to go along with the plan to relocate the controversial airbase to a sparsely populated area of Nago City on the Marines’ Camp Schwab. In the latest exchange, Nakaima bluntly told Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda keeping the airbase in Okinawa was “virtually impossible”.

The governor has renewed his appeal that the central government give up on plans to press forward with shifting the base to northern Okinawa, making a written list of his concerns. Nakaima personally presented them to Noda following a meeting.

Nakaima’s irritation overshadowed talks held last week between the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa. During those talks, Ichikawa and Panetta agreed to continue with generating an environmental assessment report on the relocation by year’s end. That report is necessary before the plan can move forward.

The governor says he told Noda the tone and commitments made by Panetta and Ichikawa was “extremely regrettable”, and he asked Noda to “resolve issues pertaining to U.S. bases in the direction that local residents wish.” Generally, opposition to the Henoko relocation plan is strong among both Nakaima’s prefectural government and many citizens. Noda told the governor he’s going ahead with plans to submit the assessment report to Okinawa anyway.

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