A long-simmering dispute between the United States and Japan over the fate of a Marine base on Okinawa seemed to have been resolved on Friday when the governor of Okinawa gave his approval to move the base to a remote area.
The agreement would bolster efforts by the Pentagon to rebalance American military forces across the Asia-Pacific region and by the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to raise his country’s strategic posture and check the growing military influence of China.
An official document approving a landfill on which much of the base would be built was stamped by the governor of Okinawa, Hirokazu Nakaima, and sent to the local branch of the Ministry of Defense, Kanako Shimada, a prefectural official, said on Friday.
Mr. Nakaima’s approval was a breakthrough after what had been longstanding opposition on Okinawa to the plan to move the Marine Corps’ Air Station Futenma, on the prefecture’s main island to the north of the island.
Read the rest of the story: Deal to Move Okinawa Base Wins Approval.
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has left Japan for Washington to attend a symposium on military base issues.
During his 5-day visit, he plans to directly lodge a protest with the US Defense Department over the alleged rape of a woman by 2 US sailors.
The symposium was organized by Okinawa Prefecture. It will be attended by security experts from the 2 countries. The agenda items include the security situation in Okinawa and the relocation of the US Marine Corps’ Futenma air station.
Nakaima plans to explain that the people of Okinawa are demanding the withdrawal of the plan to deploy the controversial Osprey transport aircraft at the Futenma air station.
He also plans to explain that Okinawa is demanding the relocation of the base outside the prefecture and the return of the site.
Nakaima plans to visit the Defense Department and the State Department to directly lodge a protest over the alleged rape of a woman by 2 US soldiers.
Nakaima spoke to reporters before his departure from Narita Airport on Sunday. He said he wants to hear the US experts’ view on Okinawa and exchange opinions with them. He added that he intends to explain the situation in Okinawa, including the deployment of the Osprey and the rape incident.
he governor of Okinawa who has opposed a plan to relocate a U.S. airbase on the southern Japanese island won re-election on Sunday, beating a more hard-line opponent of the base in a closely fought race.
Tokyo and Washington agreed in May to implement a 2006 plan to shift the U.S. Marines’ Futenma airbase in Okinawa to a less crowded area on the island, which is host to about half the U.S. troops in Japan.
But the outlook for the plan is unclear after Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s predecessor first raised and then dashed hopes for moving the base off Okinawa entirely, angering local residents who associate U.S. bases with noise, pollution and crime.
Hirokazu Nakaima’s win over a rival who more firmly rejected the May plan could leave the door open for talks with the central government, but Kan still faces an uphill battle in satisfying Washington, which wants to keep the base on the island.
Nakaima previously supported the 2006 plan but changed his stance after strong resistance by local residents. The governor would need to sign off on the construction of the new site.
Read the rest of the story:Japan anti-base governor re-elected in Okinawa.