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Henoko remains site choice To replace MCAS Futenma

Date Posted: 2004-10-01

Japan’s Defense Agency Chief, Yoshinori Ouno, is speaking out on the Okinawa issues even before he’s warmed the seat at his new desk.

Ouno, who assumed the top defense position this week, says there’s no need to review the Special Actions Committee for Okinawa agreement, and that the new airfield at Henoko will continue to move forward. “While seriously thinking about the burden on Okinawa, where 75% of the bases are concentrated in Japan,” he said, “I’ll do my best” to work with American officials on cutting the troop levels while preserving the deterrent capabilities offered by the American military power.

He says the American military on Okinawa, and elsewhere in Japan, is a necessity. At the same time, he agreed to get the Defense Ministry, the Cabinet and the Foreign minister united and working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak with one voice.

Ouno promised to study the issue on how to reduce the number of troops on Okinawa. Regarding the replacement airfield for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, he says “I have no intention of reviewing the agreement, and will continue with the current process” to make Henoko the new joint use military airfield on northern Okinawa.

Ouno told reporters he’s been given very specific marching orders by the Prime Minister. Those directions include evaluating the need for a realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan, together with updating the strategic defense plan for the country. He says Japan will continue its commitment to humanitarian aid to Iraq, where Japan has had Ground Self Defense Forces on the ground in recent months.

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