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Local mayors talk bases problems at symposium

Date Posted: 2008-07-30

Five local mayors talked of problems confronting their communities as a result of sharing space with American military installations during a symposium sponsored by a university students society, but only one was hammering away on the theme of Americans getting out.
Yoichi Iha, the anti-bases mayor of Ginowan City, expounded on the fact the U.S. and Japan agreed 12 years ago to return Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, something yet to be accomplished. “We need to get this dangerous airport moved away from Okinawa, “Iha told the American Military Reorganization symposium held in Chatan Town. “The land should be quickly returned to land owners.”
Mayors of Kadena Town, Urasoe City, Chatan Town and Okinawa City were more practical in their answers to the symposium theme “How should we face each problem of bases, the Okinawa Central Area Agency Part 2”. Okinawa City’s anti-bases mayor, Mitsuko Tomon, was calm but firm in her complaint “Camp Zukeran’s lower plaza will be returned to land owners, but we can’t go to the area and investigate the cultural relicts to be found on the land.” She acknowledged that, under the reorganization planning, the transfer of 8,000 Marines to Guam in 2014 will result in land being returned to Okinawa. “Until then, “she says, “we can’t go to inspect the land, and that sets up obstacles for us.”
“I would say the most important this is that after return of the Makiminato supply area (Camp Kinser), infrastructure maintenance money needs to come from the central government, says the Urasoe City mayor. Mitsuo Gima says “we need about ¥40 billion construction money to make parks, roads and leisure facilities for the 270 hectares area.” He says “Urasoe City is making a ¥21 billion budget for this project, but it isn’t enough.”
Chatan Town Mayor Masaharu Noguni is worried about what shape land will be in when it’s returned. “We don’t know what’s coming out after they return it,” he says. “We don’t want polluted land, so we want to inspect the land and have pollution disposed of.”
For Kadena Town mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi, it’s a matter of money. “We need subsidy money to develop everything, and we need support right now,” he says, “Not after the land is returned to owners.” Miyagi says “we have to begin thinking about how we’ll use the land.

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