Remove U.S. Futenma Air Station to ease Okinawans' burden: JCP in parliament

With U.S. military realignment talks between Japanese and U.S. defense and foreign ministers set for February 19, a Japanese Communist Party lawmaker in parliament strongly demanded that the government give up the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa.

At the House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 14, Akamine Seiken pointed out, "Without an unconditional closure of the Futenma base, the Okinawa residents' burden won't be eased as promised by the two governments.

He said, "If the government is to 'alleviate the burden,' the removal of the base is essential in responding to Okinawans' pressing demand. The construction of a new base in the sea off the Henoko district of Nago City would perpetuate Okinawa as the 'island structured on U.S. bases'."

Foreign Minister Machimura Nobutaka answered, "We will steadily implement the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) accord on relocating the Futenma base to another part of Okinawa."

About 80 to 90 percent of Okinawa residents are opposed to the Futenma relocation plan for fear that it will cause environmental destruction. In the face of the residents' massive opposition, even Kurt Campbell, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs, who had been involved in the plan, recently suggested that it's time to look for another option. (end)

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