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Base Sticking Point

Date Posted: 2000-04-08

One of the sticking points in the ongoing debate over the moving of the MCAS Futenma to a new facility in Henoko, Nago City, is the 15-year time limit for the military use of the new airport as demanded by the Okinawa prefectural government. The U.S. side has of course firmly opposed such a limit, citing uncertainties of the future.

Richard Armitage, a former senior U.S. defense official proposed last week that the governments agree on a conditional time limit for the military use of the facility. According to Armitage’s proposal, both governments would review the necessity of the facility after 10 years and decide whether there would be time to vacate the facility five years later.

Armitage sees his proposal of the conditional time limit as a good compromise that both parties can agree to. “Since no one can possibly know the future, setting an arbitrary time limit is not a good idea,” Armitage said in a recent review. “But setting a conditional time limit seems to me a reasonable and proper way to settle the issue.”

Armitage, who was assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under the administration of former president George Bush, says he would propose the idea, should George W. Bush, son of the former president, be successful in his presidential bid .Then he would invite Armitage to serve in a defense related position in his government.

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