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Governor Still Wants 15 Year Futenma Limit

Date Posted: 2000-10-06

A stalemate over the 15-year limit for the use of the new heliport to replace MCAS Futenma to be constructed in Nago goes on as Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine continues to insist on the limit. The issue is so sensitive that when he attended a committee meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, at the Prime Ministerís Residence, the matter was not even taken up for discussion. The committee that held its second meeting was set up to discuss and decide on details involving the management of the new facility. The committee reportedly discussed all other aspects of the move, ranging the protection of the dugongs that supposedly live in the area to the proposed civilian use of the facility.

It was agreed that Foreign Ministry and Defense Facilities Administration Agency officials will soon begin talks with their counterparts from Nago City Government and the Okinawa Prefectural Government. Nago City Mayor Tateo Kishimoto said after Tuesday's meeting that he welcomes the government's decision to start the working-level talks, although little progress was made on the time-limit issue.

Concerning the touchy issue of the time limit, Governor Inamine insists that since that was one of the most crucial pledges he made during his successful election campaign for the governorís post, he cannot back off. At the same time, he is trying to balance his act by saying that the whole issue should be decided in government-to-government talks, although he must do everything he can to push for the time limit. The U.S. side strongly opposes any limit.

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