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Mayor fights plan to give JASDF old US facility

Date Posted: 2006-11-02

The contract has already been accomplished, but Okinawa City Mayor Mitsuko Toumon doesn’t like it.

A former American military ammunition dump located within Okinawa City is under contract to the Japanese Army Self Defense Force, which plans to use the land as a small weapons firing range. The city owns the 42 hectares area, which it agreed to rent to the JASDF.

“We will not sign the contract for the land rental,” Toumon says, refusing to accept the agreement signed last March 31st by former mayor Masakazu Nakasone. “To rent this land to the JSASDF means making war powers strong,” she argues, “and the environment will be damaged, so I won’t sign the final papers.”

The other 140 landowners involved in the JASDF firing range project have already made their contracts to rent their lands. A plan to move the U.S. military’s Awase Golf Course to the area is already in progress.

Land owners had been concerned about losing money as the American military handed back their lands. They’ve been receiving rental payments from the Japanese government, and didn’t want to be left empty handed. Nakasone agreed with them, and agreed to let the Japanese Self Defense Forces use the land while the city and landowners developed a long term use plan.

The Japanese Self Defense Force Naha District says it will press the contract issue. “Even the current city mayor does not have the power to block it,” a spokesman says, “because we already made the legal contract with the former mayor. The final signatures to the contract were to have been made late yesterday.

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