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New Futenma airfield plan may change a bit

Date Posted: 2006-03-24

Two powerful political parties are suggesting this week there could be a warming to the idea of keeping the replacement Futenma Marine Corps airfield on Okinawa.

“We will not change our basic policy,” says Liberal Democratic Party leader Hidenao Nakagawa. Nakagawa, the party’s Policy Research Council Chairman, says “some sort of change could be made if there are sincere negotiations with local officials.” The LDP official was speaking with NHK News.

The LDP’s coalition partner, the New Komeito, echoed the sentiments that minor changes could be made in the U.S.-Japan plan for relocating Futenma to Camp Schwab. Yoshihisa Inoue, the policy chief for New Komeito, told NHK “we can be flexible with a plan that local authorities can understand.”

Current plans call for Camp Schwab, on the northern end of Okinawa, to host the new airfield, complete with 5,800 meter long runway. The plan has met considerable opposition on economic, environmental and political grounds. The runway would extend from the middle of the Marine base out into the nearby bay.

Two challengers facing off
in Okinawa City election

Two politicians with less-than-successful political records are vying for the position of Okinawa City mayor.

A growing financial crisis is the largest issue facing the two, who both failed in bids for election to the House of Representatives last year. They’re now saying “we can’t fight each other. We need to cooperate together.”

Asachio Kuwae, a former Okinawa City assemblyman, is taking on Socialist Party candidate Mitsuko Tomon in the April 23rd election.

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner New Komeito have aligned themselves with the 50-year-old Kuwae, saying they’ve now decided he’s the right person for the job, and the right person to back. The LDP said sometimes even within a party there are differences of opinions, but in advance of the fall gubernatorial elections everyone must understand each other and keep the party strong. “We don’t have enough time to make revolutions,” one party official said, “and New Komeito should understand that.”

The socialist candidate Tomon, 63, says the community “needs to cooperate and make the Socialist Party win.

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