Ishihara, Armitage discuss air base


Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Monday asked U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to back his idea of converting the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo into a joint civilian-military airport.

“I think the governor did raise the issue of the Yokota air base and the possible use of that as a civilian facility,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a regular news briefing, referring to a 45-minute meeting between Ishihara and Armitage. “The deputy secretary said, as we have before, it’s a matter for discussion between the national governments of the United States and Japan.”

The Yokota base, one of three U.S. air bases in Japan, occupies around 700 hectares of land and stretches over six municipalities on the outskirts of the Tokyo metropolitan area. It houses the command headquarters of the U.S. forces in Japan.

Ishihara, who arrived here Sunday, is scheduled to hold a series of talks with U.S. government officials during his stay, which ends Friday.

It is his second visit to the U.S. as Tokyo governor, following a trip in September 2001.

Ishihara was in Washington when terrorists attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, forcing him to cancel his appointments.