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Alternate locations surface as Futenma replacements

Date Posted: 2004-07-29

The American military may be giving up on the idea of moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to Henoko.

Japanese news media covering talks between the U.S. and Japan are reporting that the U.S. military planners appear unhappy with the delays surrounding the relocation of the Ginowan-based airfield, and want some action. Even as the stories surface in various newspapers, government officials are moving quickly to distance themselves from the reports.

Various media are writing that alternate sites are available for consideration, including Ie Island, Kadena Air Base and Shimoji Island, all on Okinawa, and several sites in other prefectures. One report was that the American posture favors a shift to Kadena Air Base, only a few miles from the present airfield location.

Okinawa’s governor, Keiichi Inamine, remains in favor of moving Futenma to Henoko, while the American side is concerned that such a move, now being delayed by environmental concerns and protests from area residents, could be more than a decade away.

Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha, who won the post last year by campaigning to rid his city of the noisy and potentially dangerous military air base, just finished a U.S. visit where he lobbied against Futenma. Iha solicited support from U.S. government agencies, private organizations and think tanks, and congressmen to join his crusade against the base.

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