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U.S. Navy hospital construction begins despite mayor’s plea

Date Posted: 2009-06-11

Ginowan City’s mayor fought to the very end to block the start to construction of a new U.S. Navy hospital at the edge of Camp Foster near the Futenma Shrine, but lost the battle last month.

Construction on the hospital, which was agreed to by the Special Action Committee on Okinawa in 1996, began May 11th. Mayor Yoichi Iha had long argued “Why should the hospital be built here, because the Marines are transferring to Guam.” He’d asked instead that the project be scrubbed and the land returned to local owners.

Having failed on that approach, Iha and Ginowan are launching a new appeal for work to stop, citing very important historical cultural properties in the area. Iha and the city are asking Okinawa’s Self Defense Agency to stop the project and begin a new review of the transfer.

The hospital, the Okinawa Self Defense Agency says, will have five floors plus a basement, all built of reinforced concrete. The 39,500 square meters hospital will be complete this year, the agency says, but said it didn’t know when the new hospital would open. There are other related facilities construction projects on the site, including warehouses and barracks. The Self Defense Agency says it will investigate Iha’s claims there are burial cultural excavations on the site.

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