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Futenma relocation talks to resume ‘at early date’

Date Posted: 2007-07-12

Discussions between Okinawa’s governor and the State Minister in Charge of Okinawa Affairs on the relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station are expected to resume in the near future. Sanae Takaichi, the state minister, says she and Governor Hirokazu Nakaima will begin anew, seeking a solution to conflicts that have plagued the relocation project.

Plans by the U.S. and Japanese governments to move the controversial airfield from Ginowan City to Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa fell into limbo after Nago City’s major asked for changes. Governor Nakaima agreed with Yoshikazu Shimabukuro’s plans to modify the V-shape runway airfield to be constructed on the Marine Corps camp.

Takaichi says she has recommended formation of a relocation council to handle the talks, and Nakaima was in agreement.

Preliminary work continues, meanwhile, for the new facility. The Naha Self Defense Force Agency has published plans for pontoons to be used in underwater construction. The giant concrete boxes will be sunk five meters underwater across a 10 hectare area of Oura Bay, the area scheduled for reclamation for the project. The actual transfer facility construction will be across about 140 hectares, with another 10 hectares on the Henoko area coastline. A 700 meters long temporary road is to be built linking the construction area to a public road. The SACO Agreement’s original plan called for a slightly different location, with the pontoon factory to be built on the Oura Bay west coast area. Officials say the original plan had been thoroughly vetted to protect the environment. One question centered on whether to build the pontoon factory at Nakagusuku Bay’s facility, or at Oura Bay.

Officials say the revised plan has the factory being built on the American military side to deter protesters’ demonstrations.

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