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Basic details decided in Futenma relocation

Date Posted: 2002-01-04

The Futenma Alternative Facility Consultative Council, which comprises the government of Japan, the prefecture of Okinawa and related municipal governments, met for the eighth time on Dec. 27 at the prime minister痴 residence in Tokyo to discuss the plan for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to Nago City. Officials attending the meeting reached a basic agreement permitting construction of the new facility on the reef off Henoko in Nago City. They also agreed that the facility痴 heliport would be available for both military and commercial use.

Nago City Mayor Tateo Kishimoto presented local residents・views concerning the national government痴 latest proposals and suggested that the facility be located on outer waters that include the reef. He also urged that extensions from the runway be located outside of residential districts and that the facility痴 size be smaller than envisioned. Governor Keiichi Inamine emphasized the 登n-reef・ aspect of the plan after enumerating the difficulties involved in construction on the outer sea. He also stressed the importance of nature conservation within the reef and the need to ensure the maintenance of a healthy environment.

Regarding a proposed 15-year limit for military use, the governor and mayor strongly asserted the indispensability of the time restriction to the country, despite the national government痴 insistence that setting such a limit would be difficult, considering the current international situation. Inamine unequivocally reiterated his conviction that a time limit must be set prior to the start of construction.

Meanwhile, members of a group opposing the plan called on the Cabinet Office, urging the government to abandon the relocation. According to group spokesman Tomi Yasuji, Mayor Kishimoto has ignored the opinions of the local residents for the last two years, since the city first agreed to the relocation of the facility within its boundaries. Accusing the mayor of listening only to the voice of the local committee, Yasuji said it was a contradiction to situate a military facility in a place that was so rich with nature.

In related news, opponents to the relocation in Nago had a heated argument with officials, claiming that discussions on the matter were still under way and that the time had not yet come to enter into an agreement. Some of the group痴 members blasted the decision to reach an agreement before fully considering the opinions of local residents, labeling it as dictatorial.・

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