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U.S. land return timetable in works

Kyodo

Japan and the United States plan to disclose concrete plans Friday to return some of the land south of Kadena Air Base on Okinawa that’s being used by the U.S. military, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera intends to visit Okinawa and meet with Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima on Saturday to discuss the plans, the source said.

Japan and the United States also plan to specify when U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in crowded Ginowan will be closed and its operations relocated to a planned new airstrip in the coastal city of Nago farther north on Okinawa Island, the source said.

The two governments are considering stipulating in the plans that the envisioned base transfer will take place “in nine years,” provided progress is made in building the new base, according to another government source.

“We are now doing last-minute wheeling and dealing to achieve outcomes” that “make sense” to the people of Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

Officials in Tokyo and Washington are negotiating terms for returning land used at five U.S. military facilities south of Kadena Air Base to Japanese control.