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Futenma replacement to cost ¥300 billion

Date Posted: 2006-06-02

The Japanese government is promising details on the new airfield to be built in northern Okinawa by October.

While specifics of the replacement airfield for Futenma Marine Corps Air Station are still being thrashed out between Japan and the US, the Japanese Defense Minister has indicated they’ve budgeted ¥300 billion to cover the costs. The two countries agreed to construct two V-shaped runways at Camp Schwab, near Nago City, to replace Futenma.

Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga is offering his recommendations to the Japanese Cabinet this week. Relocation plans are to be developed jointly by the central government and various Okinawa Prefecture and local governments. A key voice will be that of the Nago City municipal government.

Informed sources in Tokyo say the Cabinet is sidestepping the specifics for the moment to appease Okinawan government leaders who are still not pleased with the deal. Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine remains opposed to any plan for moving Futenma, but still wants the Marines to leave the island.

Efforts to discuss his concerns with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during last week’s Pacific Leaders Summit didn’t work, leaving the governor with the media to listen. The central government is setting up a council to coordinate realignment projects and programs, and to insure aid from Tokyo is focused.

The timetable is still not fixed, although most observers are expecting the 2014 date discussed earlier to remain firm. The Cabinet will make that decision as part of its overall approval of the plan for realigning U.S. Forces in Japan.

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