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Futenma relocation project could begin early next year

Date Posted: 2006-09-01

A formal request from the United States to begin work on the replacement airfield at Camp Schwab could go to the Japanese government as early as next January.

Informed sources this week said the request would pave the way for work to begin by Spring to relocate the controversial Marine Corps Air Station Futenma away from Ginowan City. Japan and the U.S. agreed in May to create a new airfield using Camp Schwab land, together with offshore landfill.

To make room for the V-shaped runway, officials say several barracks at Camp Schwab will have to be moved, and new ones constructed. Sources say the American move for quick action is designed to ‘lock in’ the project before new objections can spring up. Earlier proposals for moving Futenma to northern Okinawa were blocked by protesters concerned about the environment, politics and economic issues.

The official position by the Japanese Defense Agency is that the new airfield on Camp Schwab will be complete by 2014. The Defense Agency says environmental surveys will take about three years, followed by five years of construction. An official says work on Camp Schwab could begin immediately to demolish the barracks and other buildings, because no environmental surveys are required.

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