Iwakuni housing land sale in doubt

Kyodo

Yamaguchi Gov. Sekinari Nii said Thursday he will freeze the sale of land that would be used for building housing for dependents of American forces near U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni unless the city is struck from a list of candidate sites for the transfer of marines currently in Okinawa.

Nii told reporters he will make a decision about selling the land to the central government after the next two-plus-two meeting of Japanese and U.S. foreign and defense ministers this spring.

In November, Nii and Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda agreed to sell the land lots to the state by the end of March.

Nii also said he will voice his opposition to the government’s plan to move some marines from Okinawa to Iwakuni when he meets with Foreign and Defense officials next week in Tokyo.

The United States is considering moving about 4,700 marines from Okinawa to Guam and deploying 3,300 elsewhere in the Pacific on a rotational basis, sources said. It has also sounded out Tokyo about a plan to transfer about 1,500 of the 3,300 marines to Iwakuni, other sources said earlier this week.