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Foreign Minister visits Okinawa; US offers Kadena Air Base facilities

Date Posted: 1999-05-29

Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura met with Okinawa Governor Inamine and U.S. military officials over the weekend and visited sites shortlisted as possible venues in preparation for next year's G-8 summit to be held in Nago City.

During his two-day visit to the prefecture, the Foreign Minister said he would consider Governor Inamine's proposal for a meeting between G-8 summit leaders and local citizens. Inamine hopes the meeting would provide G-8 leaders with some understanding of the concerns many Okinawans raise over the large U.S. military presence on the island.

AFP reported Sunday Komura understood the difficulties Okinawans face "due to the concentration of bases."

Komura, who visited Nago and other sites, including Kadena Air Base, under review for the summit, also revealed he had received an offer for the use of the giant U.S. facility during the summit. According to a report Monday in the Asahi newspaper, facilities at Kadena would be at the disposal of the Japanese government if required.

With such a high volume of air traffic expected next July, Japanese government officials are concerned Naha International Airport may not be large enough to adequately cope with the expected number of planes needing to park at the airport, the Asahi said. However, Komura told reporters at a news conference Sunday "no decision has been made."

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