Saturday, May 7, 2011

Japan, US drop Okinawa base relocation

US Marines' Futenma airbase in Okinawa, Japan.(file photo)

Source: Press TV

Japan and the United States have cancelled a formerly-approved plan for relocating the controversial American airbase on Okinawa Island by 2014.

According to Japanese media, Washington and Tokyo will discuss a new timeframe for the relocation of US Marines' Futenma airbase, Reuters reported on Friday.

The issue of US military bases on the southern Japanese island has long strained relations between the two countries. Last year, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised to implement a 2006 agreement to shift the American airbase to a less populated part of Okinawa.

The failure to implement the 2006 deal sustained a hefty blow to Kan's predecessor Yukio Hatoyama, who was forced to resign in 2010 after facing public pressure and outrage over the issue.

The two sides had agreed in 2006 to transfer the facility from the residential district of Ginowan to the coastal and less populated area of Henoko in Nago, Okinawa.

However, that plan is also facing strong opposition from local residents who see the base as a source of crime, accidents and noise.

Former US National Security Adviser James Johns says the best possible choice is the integration of Futenma air base with another US base in Kadena town in southern Okinawa.

Johns said in a Friday meeting in Washington with Mikio Shimoji, secretary general of Japan's ruling party, that the relocation plan was not feasible on account of expected environmental destruction in the area.

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