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Governor to demand return of two military training areas

Date Posted: 2008-10-03

Torishima Island has been a designated target firing range by U.S. forces since World War II, but Okinawa’s governor says he wants the shooting to stop and the island returned to the people.

The island is located 28 kilometers north of Kume Island, only 50 kilometers east of Okinawa’s main island. It’s actually one of two islands used as firing ranges that Governor Hirokazu Nakaima wants back. Torishima has been used primarily for ground and ground-to-air weapons training, while the Kume Island shooting area is used by U.S. Air Force pilots.

“I will strongly ask the American and Japanese governments to return both the Torishima and Kume Island training areas 50 kilometers from Okinawa, and ask they return the waters off the coast to the hotels.”

Both the Prefectural Fishermen’s Union and Association Chairman’s Union have asked for return of the waters now restricted for military use. “Let’s fight together,” Nakaima told the fishermen, “and get the land and water back.” The governor says he will “discuss local autonomy with leaders to find out what they want, and then fight for release of the land to owners.”

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