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Japanese Government tours MCAS Futenma

Date Posted: 2004-10-28

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan — About 100 Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce members visited here Oct. 15 to learn the history and the mission of the air station as well as the strategic importance of its location.

A video that included Western Pacific maps explained why MCAS Futenma’s location in Okinawa is essential to supporting the security interests of Japan, the United States and other allies in Asia. The video also explained that by having air assets here, the response times to regional threats is immediate.

The tour highlighted the number of jobs the air station provides to the Okinawans as well as the outreach programs air station Marines participate in regularly, including volunteering at local schools and special events, which open the air station’s gates to the public.

“This tour was given to the Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce, so they could see what Futenma is,” said Col. Richard W. Lueking, the commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. “It’s one thing to read about this air station in a paper. It’s another thing to see it in person.”

Besides strategic military and fiscal impacts, the air station is integrated into Okinawa socially, agriculturally and historically.

“A small group of farmers comes on base to tend to crops in empty areas of the air station, and local schools have sports fields inside the fence line,” Lueking said. “Recently, archaeologists have begun unearthing a 3,000-year-old village southwest of the flight line.”

We allow these things because as stewards of this land that eventually will be returned to the people of Japan, we want it to be in good condition environmentally, preserved for their use.”

During the 60-minute tour, the Marine Corps helped ensure the Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce representatives received a more personal feel for Futenma, according to Lueking.

“These people will be running the government of Japan 20 years from now, and hopefully this tour gave them a better idea of why the Marine Corps is here,” Lueking said.

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