Extra edition: relocation of Futenma Air Station unrealistic

Extra edition: relocation of Futenma Air Station unrealistic


May 12, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and John McCain, senior United States Senator, announced on May 11 that they consider the current plan put forward by both the U.S. and Japanese governments for the relocation of Futenma Air Station to be unrealistic. They asked the Department of Defense to consider an alternative plan, such as integrating the facilities now at Futenma Air Station into those at Kadena Air Base.

The U.S. Congress clarifying its opposition to the current plan may increase the likelihood of the Futenma relocation issue, which is still pending between U.S. and Japanese governments, to move even deeper into stalemate.

The announcement indicated that the current plan, which aims to relocate the facilities at the Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City, is “totally unrealistic.” They further state that, “The significant estimated cost growth associated with some projects is simply unaffordable in today’s increasingly constrained fiscal environment.”

Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima strongly questioned the feasibility of a plan that suggests the integration of Futenma Air Station into Kadena Air Base, saying, “Every time this has been suggested it has come to nothing. The local residents are dead against this idea and I cannot see how it would be possible to convince them to accept it.”

Nakaima emphasized the issue of Kadena Air Base noise, saying, “The noise level has continued to go up rather than down. Integrating Futenma Air Station into Kadena Air Base would double the noise level – who is going to accept that? Unless that is resolved, putting the facilities into Kadena is simply not viable. There are still several important questions that need to be resolved.”

However, Nakaima said, “While this statement does come from the Congress, it does indicate that the United States, which had previously been sticking to the current plan, is starting to show a little more flexibility on the Futenma issue.” Nakaima indicated that he would pay close attention to how the U.S. government and its military respond to the statement from Levin and McCain.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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