Sunday, March 24, 2013

Japan’s Leader, Shinzo Abe, Tries to Restart Plan to Move Okinawan Base - NYTimes.com

TOKYO — Seeking to remove a longstanding irritant in Japan’s ties with the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday that his government would ask local officials on the island of Okinawa for a key permit to begin construction to relocate an unpopular American air base to another part of the island.

The decision to request the permit is an effort by Mr. Abe’s government to restart a plan to move the American base, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, to a less crowded area. Mr. Abe and President Obama agreed last month to proceed with the relocation plan, which was originally approved in 1996 but has been blocked because of opposition in Okinawa, where many people prefer the base be moved off the island.

That opposition appears to be as stiff as ever, making it uncertain that the island’s prefectural government will approve the permit. While the island’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, is a member of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, he is under intense public pressure to oppose the relocation.

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Comment: The governor's "official" response was not available at the time of this printing but, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

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