Friday, April 5, 2013

Japan, U.S. to present plans on Okinawa base land handover - The Japan Times

Japan and the United States were to reach a final agreement Friday on plans to return some of the land south of the U.S. Kadena Air Base on Okinawa now used by the U.S. military, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos were expected to sign off on the plans, which concern five U.S. military facilities and areas on Okinawa Island, after their meeting at the prime minister’s office late Friday afternoon.

Japan and the United States also aim to specify in the plans when U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the city of Ginowan will be closed and its operations relocated to a new airstrip slated to be built in a coastal area in Nago, farther north on the island, the source said.

The plans are part of efforts to ease the burden on Okinawa, which has long hosted the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan, and to increase the chance of Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima approving the central government’s request to reclaim land needed to build the new Nago base, whose planned runways will extend offshore.

Nakaima has resisted the proposed base replacement within Okinawa amid strong local opposition.

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