Nago support sought with heliport study

The government hopes the city of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, will reverse its position and cooperate with the state to launch a feasibility study for the proposed relocation of the Futenma U.S. Marine heliport to a sea-based facility off Camp Schwab, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano said April 9.

Yosano’s remarks came after a Japanese daily reported that Nago Mayor Tetsuya Higa said he plans to attend a municipal government-sponsored meeting later in the day aimed at providing local residents with information concerning the proposed study. Higa’s remarks were taken as an indication he may accept the government’s request to cooperate in the study.

Yosano told a news conference that although the government has not confirmed Higa’s remarks, it welcomes the move if true. The central government hopes that Nago and the Okinawa Prefectural Government can agree on the study before Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto leaves for Washington on April 24 for talks with President Bill Clinton, a senior government official said. The prefecture has been snubbing the central government by saying it cannot call on the Nago Municipal Office to cooperate on something that would only mean a transfer of a U.S. base to another part of Okinawa.