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Futenma furor continues as Nago says ‘no’ to new base

Date Posted: 2005-11-24

Nago City’s Assembly has rejected a plan for moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Ginowan to the northern city’s suburbs.

An extraordinary session of the city’s assembly turned thumbs down on the proposal agreed to last month by the U.S. and Japanese governments, citing dangers to their community. Politicians said the new airport would cause high noise levels that would negatively impact on citizens. They say the projected 1,800 meters long runway would be located too close to nearby homes.

The Assembly also took the Japan central government to task for even making such a plan without consulting the local Nago community. The plan developed in October calls for the new airfield to be constructed at the Marine Corps Base Camp Schwab, and out into a coastal waterways area to be landfilled east of the installation.

Nago Mayor Tateo Kishimoto opposes the relocation plan because of the potential for accidents, a position the U.S. military had cited earlier in the negotiations. Kishimoto says, though, his city would continue seeking revisions to the plan to make it acceptable.

Residents in many Okinawa communities are arguing against the relocation, calling instead for Futenma’s troops and aircraft to be moved out of Okinawa Prefecture to Hawaii or Guam. The two governments, meanwhile, say they want to finalize the new plan by next March.

In related developments, Kagoshima Prefecture’s senior leadership is still opposing plans to move military refueling planes to a local Air Self Defense Forces Base. Kanoya Mayor Sakae Yamashita says he’s opposed to having the Marine aircraft stationed at the local base, telling Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga the plan is “unacceptable to ensuring safety and peace of our local residents.”

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