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Runways location still replacement airfield issue

Date Posted: 2008-01-07

Officially, the Japanese government says the new U.S. military airfield to be built at Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa “has to be built as we agreed with America.”
In reality, the government is showing a willingness to heed Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s demand the two V-shaped runways be moved offshore, into Henoko Bay. The governor wants the runways moved at least 100 meters into the bay, and the government’s already showing signs of giving in.
Japan’s central government wants the Futenma replacement airfield issue settled quickly, so environmental assessments can move forward. The Chief Cabinet Secretary says “Okinawa should keep its promise with no more demands to move the V runways farther away. This is the final condition.” Nobutaka Machimura was clear, in saying “Let’s move it 80-90 meters offshore, and we will consider your opinion for acceptance.”
Machimura wants to have agreement by the time of the 6th Futenma Air Station Transfer Committee Conference, now scheduled for late January. He says “I believe moving the runway just 100meters more offshore would not be any problem to America,” referring to a comment by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month that he was opposed to any changes in the agreement made in 2006.

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