U.S. Futenma Air Base's Return to Japan Still Up in Air
Tokyo, April 12 (Jiji Press)--There is still no prospect for an early return of the current site of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma air base in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to Japan, 25 years after the two countries reached an agreement on the return.
Japan and the United States originally planned to realize the return of the land in five to seven years, but it took 10 years for them to decide the current plan to relocate the Futenma base to the Henoko coastal district in Nago, another city in the southernmost Japan prefecture.
Okinawans strongly oppose the relocation plan, which the Japanese government has been pushing as the sole solution to remove the dangers posed by the Futenma base, which is located in a densely populated area. The issue has become a symbol of division between the government and Okinawa.
"The relocation to Henoko is the only solution," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press conference on Monday. "Proceeding with work steadily is the way to realize the full return of Futenma and eliminate danger at an early date," he said.
The rape of a schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa in 1995 triggered outrage among Okinawans against the heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture, leading to the agreement on the Futenma base's return.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]