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Ginowan mayor spends own Money to petition Washington

Date Posted: 2005-07-15

Ginowan mayor Yoichi Iha is serious that he wants Futenma Marine Corps Air Station closed.

His objective is treated with such fervor that he is again in the United States making appeals to the American government to close the base and give the land back to the Okinawa people. What makes this trip different is that heís paying his own way.

He was in the States almost a year ago, with funding provided by the Ginowan City Assembly. This year they denied his trip, rejecting the necessary funding. Iha is visiting not only government leaders in Washington, but also traveling to military bases across the U.S.

Iha says heís looking for locations, such as Camp Pendleton in California, where the Okinawa-based marines could be shifted. A U.S.-Japan agreement in 1996 called for closing Futenma, but only after a replacement airfield could be built. A plan for such a base was approved for Henoko, on the islandís north side, but it has become mired in political and environmental issues. If it is ever built, startup is still 10-15 years away.

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