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Okinawa City Mayor accepts relocation of Navy apron

Date Posted: 2003-08-08

The U.S. Navy’s aircraft apron on Kadena Air Base will relocate from the Kadena Town side of the base to a new location on the Okinawa City side. Okinawa City Mayor Masakazu Nakasone made the announcement during a press conference on Aug. 1. The mayor said he felt the decision was a tough one, but ultimately he had no choice. “I judged it can't be helped considering the suffering of the residents in our neighboring town,” Nakasone said.

The relocation had been agreed as a part of the 1996 SACO agreements. The mayor said the city had received a letter calling for cooperation on the relocation from Takumi Okazaki, the director general of the Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau (DFAB). He said the city had received the letter on Jun 26, and explained that he answered positively to the plan after confirming that the noise level from the facility anticipated for the nearest residents was within tolerable limits.

“Because the relocation site on the Okinawa City side is about 1,500 meters away from the nearest residential area, the noise level will not rise over 50 decibels,” the mayor said. He added that there is no fear for wind-blown aircraft cleaning fluid and water would reach the residential area.

The mayor said that since the current Navy apron is only 50 meters away from the nearest residential area, relocating the facility to the proposed area will lead to significant reduction in noise level.

The mayor also replied in his answer to the DFAB, that he requested development of the Koza Athletic Park Facility and the Multi Purpose Plaza “in return.” He added that the exact amount of money the city can expect as a SACO adjustment subsidy cannot be calculated yet.

Although the mayor was rather upbeat about his decision, not everyone in Okinawa welcomed it. Some assembly members complained that the mayor did not inform but a few of his allies about the plan. Some residents also have expressed similar sentiments.

Seishu Komesu, a community representative at Matsumoto District of Okinawa City said he was very surprised and suspicious when he heard about the mayor’s decision. “If really there is no problem, why the mayor could not tell us in advance and explain things,” Komesu said.

But on his part, Kensaku Nakamoto, a used car salesman whose lot is just outside the Kadena fence near the aircraft washing rack said that the facility could not go too soon. “I have had paint on my cars ruined because of the spray from the washing rack. I wish they could have moved this facility earlier,” Nakamoto said.

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