Hatoyama to visit Okinawa over US base issue: Hirano
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Last Updated: Friday, April 30, 2010, 17:50
Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will visit Okinawa Prefecture on Tuesday to hold talks with Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima over the issue on where to relocate a US Marine base in the southernmost prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said today.

Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa is the first since he took power last September.

Hatoyama, who is aiming to end this row by May 31, is expected to explain to the governor that he plans to build a pile-supported facility on the coast of the US Marine Corps' Camp Schwab in Nago to relocate the Marines' Futemma Air Station in Ginowan there, instead of reclaiming land from the sea on the coast in line with an existing accord.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government is also planning to transfer up to 1,000 Marines or part of the drills at Futemma to Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, about 200 kilometers northeast of Okinawa.

Hirano said a detailed schedule for the premier's visit has yet to be fixed, but according to government sources, Hatoyama will likely meet with residents on Okinawa and visit Futemma, Camp Schwab and other locations concerned as well.

But prospects are dim that his plan will win a go-ahead from local residents, as people on Okinawa are still placing hopes that Hatoyama will move Futemma outside the prefecture to keep the pledge he made for last year's general election and those on Tokunoshima are dead set against hosting any US military facility.

"We are in the process of formulating a government plan based on the opinions from people in Okinawa, those in affected areas and the United States," Hatoyama told reporters at his official residence in the morning.

But Hatoyama has also met with fierce opposition from the Social Democratic Party, one of the DPJ's two coalition partners.


First Published: Friday, April 30, 2010, 17:50

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