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U..S. Defense Secretary happy with Japan Futenma assurance

Date Posted: 2011-11-10

America’s Defense Secretary is telling his bosses in Washington that Japan has once more reassured him a critical environmental report on the planned Futenma replacement airfield is on track to be presented to Okinawa Prefecture before the end of the year.

Leon Panetta, in a report on his recent travels to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia says Yasuo Ichikawa, the Japanese Defense Minister, “assured him of Japan’s intention to move forward with the steps necessary” to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to another location within Okinawa. Panetta says Japan intends to get the report to Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima within the next few weeks.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has personally told Governor Nakaima the same thing during a meeting a little more than a week ago. Nakaima was miffed by the way talks went between Panetta and Ichikawa, and let the Prime Minister know of his irritation. Nakaima told him he found the approach taken by the two defense leaders “extremely regrettable” and asked Noda to “resolve issues pertaining to U.S. bases in the direction the local residents wish.”

An agreement made in 2006 called for relocating Futenma from crowded Ginowan City in central Okinawa to the sparsely populated Henoko district of Nago City in the far north. The plan calls for most of the new base to be built on the Camp Schwab U.S. Marine base, with the two 2,500 meter V-shape runways to be built extending into adjacent Oura Bay.

The governor’s opposed, and has said he would not sign the paperwork approving land reclamation for the project. Okinawa citizens and politicians are opposed to the project for a variety of political and environmental reasons.

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