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Defense Minister says heíll consider Futenma change

Date Posted: 2012-06-15

Japanís new Defense Minister, Satoshi Morimoto, says he may consider revising the current plan for relocating a controversial U.S. base in Okinawa Prefecture.

While stressing that the existing plan is "the only viable solution" to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma base, Morimoto said in an interview with major media organizations, "We should take it seriously if Okinawa makes a request." The plan, adopted by Japan and the United States, calls for moving the base in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area of Nago, also in the southernmost Japan prefecture.

"The promise between the two countries is very important," Morimoto said, "but we have to take into account worries among the people of Okinawa." Morimoto expressed his willingness to have candid discussions with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima to break the current stalemate over the relocation issue. Nakaima currently calls for moving the Futenma base outside the prefecture, but before the Democratic Party of Japan took power in 2009, he was willing to accept the relocation plan after revising the location for a runway.

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