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Asia defense specialist hints Futenma will ‘stay a while’

Date Posted: 2005-05-16

A former defense official now specializing in Asia Pacific Strategic Studies warns that ‘unrealistic expectations’ are forming about Futenma being closed.

Kurt Campbell, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs, says “there will be a big gap” between what Okinawans say they want, and what will ultimately come out of realignment talks between the U.S. and Japanese governments. He’s told Japanese politicians visiting the U.S. that the solutions aren’t simple, and that the U.S. thinks it can continue with Futenma and Kadena Air Base operations while the new airbase at Henoko is constructed.

Campbell, who was an original member of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa in 1996, when Japan and the U.S. agreed that Futenma would be returned to Okinawa control as soon as a new base was ready, charges the Japanese government is not doing a good job of explaining the technicalities of the process to its citizens. He notes the Henoko base project is mired in difficulties and controversy, and predicts it will never be built. At the same time, he points out there are no alternative plans being contemplated or developed, at least publicly.

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