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Guam makes plans, but Futenma move still stalled

Date Posted: 2008-03-22

An environmental study is under way on Okinawa’s northeast coast near Camp Schwab, the first step toward the planned relocation of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from crowded Ginowan City.
The project is supposed to be complete by 2012, paving the way for relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. That deadline is not likely to be met, because Okinawa officials are still lobbying for changes to the 2006 agreement. Led by Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Okinawa officials are asking the two V-shaped runways be located farther into Oura Bay off Camp Schwab, away from population centers.
“Plans to relocate the Futenma base have already been changed many times,” says Kevin Maher, the American Consul General in Naha. “None has been implemented, and we are not thinking it is time for renegotiation.” Maher says the agreement was “between governments” and should not be “changed every time different politicians came.” Nakaima took office after the 2006 agreement, which had been endorsed by Nago City leaders, as well as the then governor.
Guam is making preparations to accept the 8,000 Marines and their families, as well as other American service personnel. It is the largest buildup ever attempted on Guam, strategically located in the western pacific well south of Japan. The island’s 170,000 occupants already host more than 6,000 American service personnel.
Shifting Marines to Guam won’t take place until a new airfield is constructed and operational, in accordance with the 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Japan. Once Futenma is closed, the exodus of Marines, a significant downsizing of the American troop population on the island, will begin.

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