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Yomitan airfield returned to Japan

Date Posted: 2006-08-03

The United States has handed back Yomitan Auxiliary Airfield to Japan, which has given it back to the local community.

The Yomitan Airfield, more that 190 hectares in size, was ruled excess to the military’s needs. Nearly 140hectares was returned in an agreement that also had Yomitan give up 14 hectares of Kadena Magazine land.

The airfield had been seized by the Japanese military during its World War II stay on the island. Following the war, American forces held the land for 63 years. “To return the Yomitan Auxiliary Airport,” says Yomitan Village mayor Keizo Yasuda, “ was the biggest target for us. Now we have back our land, and I am so happy.”

Also returned was a piece of land housing an unpopular military communication site known as the elephant cage. That land belonged to Shoichi Chibana, 58, who says the village is going to rent the land to local farmers, while giving back land to original owners.

A downside to the deal is that rental payments are ended. Yomitan Village says it will make a Health Center and roads on other parts of the newly acquired lands.

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