Marine base on Okinawa to be moved
For nearly two decades, fierce local opposition has stalled a plan to relocate a controversial U.S. Marine base on the island of Okinawa. But on Friday, Japan's hawkish prime minister persuaded Okinawa's governor to sign off on the construction of a replacement facility — a step that was hailed in Washington as a diplomatic breakthrough.
The concession by Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima is a significant achievement for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose government spent months lobbying for the move. To win Nakaima's support, Abe offered spending for infrastructure and development projects on Okinawa and pledged to help reduce the island's troop-hosting burden.
The struggle to find a replacement site for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma had become a source of friction between Japan and the United States, and in recent years some Obama administration officials had grown pessimistic about resolving the impasse.
Nakaima signed off on plans for landfill work that will allow the Futenma air station to be moved to a less populated area, but he said he would still prefer the base to be moved off the island entirely.
Roughly 2,000 protesters flocked to the Okinawan prefectural assembly building in the city of Naha, holding signs saying, “Leave office, governor” and “We won't allow the landfill.”
In the United States, officials greeted the agreement as a major step. The relocation of Futenma is a key element of a broader realignment of troops and resources in the Asia-Pacific region, where the administration is seeking to counterbalance China's military rise and anticipate threats from a volatile North Korea.
“Reaching this milestone is a clear demonstration to the region that the alliance is capable of handling complex, difficult problems in order to deal effectively with 21st century security challenges,” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said.
Completion of the air station, which is expected to include two mile-plus-long runways, will take approximately a decade, American officials said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 117-year-old woman dies in Japan; U.S. woman now oldest person on Earth
- Video captures Germanwings flight’s doom
- Lufthansa: Co-pilot disclosed bout of ‘severe depression’
- Antarctica yields life in extremest of conditions, so what about on another planet?
- Iran nuclear discussions go past deadline
- Nuke deal won’t stop Iran secret work
- Iran blames U.S. drone for killing military advisers in Iraq
- Airstrike hits aid camp for displaced in Yemen, kills dozens
- Alone at controls, Germanwings co-pilot sought to ‘destroy’ the plane
- Germanwings flight co-pilot Lubitz worried about job security, officials say
- Shiia militias in Iraq say they have assurances U.S. will stop strikes