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Government angers man with forced lease renewal

Date Posted: 2005-03-04

A Yomitan man who owns 236 square meters of the U.S. Navy’s Sobe Communications Site wants it back.

The Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, won’t do it. Koizumi this week signed a directed lease renewal against Shoichi Chibana, 50. Chibana, a member of the Yomitan village assembly, is an antibase activist.

The action came after the Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau determined an extension to Chibana’s lease was necessary because the communication site’s move to Camp Hansen is delayed until the end of May. A Special Land Use Law first passed in 1997 allows the government to renew leases on land used by the U.S. military forces, even when the landowners disapproves. Chibana’s land has been involuntarily held since 1996.

Officials say Chibana will get his land back before June 1. The U.S. and Japan agreed nine years ago to return the Sobe communications site as quickly as a new facility could be constructed elsewhere. The agreement was part of a deal to reduce the burden on Okinawa, which hosts roughly 75% of the American troops stationed in Japan.

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