Okinawa minister to tour ex-U.S. bases in Philippines

Kyodo

Cabinet minister Ichita Yamamoto may visit former U.S. bases in the Philippines next month to inspect how they were successfully converted into commercial zones, in hopes of applying their experiences to returned U.S. installations in Okinawa.

Yamamoto, the minister in charge of Okinawa and affairs involving the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, hopes to visit the former Clark Air Base and nearby Subic Bay Naval Base so he can promote the plan under which the U.S. will return part of the land and facilities south of Kadena Air Base, a government official said Monday.

The conversion of the bases in the Philippines to civilian use has been considered a major success.

Yamamoto’s visit would be aimed at demonstrating to Okinawa that the central government is keen to work on the return of facilities and areas used by U.S. forces, the official said.