Four Okinawan landlords sign U.S. base lease contracts

Four Okinawan landlords, reversing their earlier opposition, agreed Feb. 28 to sign lease contracts with Tokyo to allow the U.S. military to continue to use their land after the current contracts expire in May, the Defense Facilities Administration Agency announced.

The agency said its Naha office in Okinawa withdrew on Feb. 28 a request to the Okinawa prefectural land expropriation committee for forced renewal of leases for the five plots of land owned by the four local landlords. The four landlords were among the approximately 3,000 landowners defying the central government’s attempt to forcibly renew leases of land inside 12 U.S. military installations in Okinawa Prefecture before the current contracts expire on May 14.

One of the four owns property covering 6,000 sq. meters of the U.S. Ie-jima Auxiliary Airfield. The other three possess a combined area of 1,000 sq. meters at Naha Port.

Insisting that the Japanese government is obliged by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to secure facilities for the U.S. armed forces, the central government has urged the land expropriation committee to promptly authorize the continued leasing of the areas of land in question. The committee called the first public hearing on the issue on Feb. 21 in the presence of the landowners concerned and central government officials.