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Joint Land Use For Bases Planned

Date Posted: 2000-08-04

Okinawa City Mayor Masakazu Nakasone declared that “this is just the beginning of the joint use of the base,” when talking about Clinton Square, officially named Friendship Plaza, a mini-size park just inside the Kadena Air Base by Gate 2.

It has long been the suggestion of Brig. Gen. James Smit, the former commander of the 18th Wing, to find ways to jointly use some base land in order to improve ties between surrounding communities and the air base.

The ideas include constructing a university that would be attended by both American and local students and constructing a parking lot for tour buses. However, things are not that simple. The Japanese central government pays the landowners rent for their property on base. If the land is used for something else, the payments cease.

That is also why the construction cost of the Friendship Plaza, about ¥9 million, was paid entirely by Okinawa City. In order to get into the park, visitors must sign with the gate guard, and the walk the short distance to the park. No cars are allowed inside the base. The plaza is open to visitors daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To enter, they also have to notify the gate guard.

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