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The central government must quickly narrow its differences with the Okinawa Prefectural Government over a controversial heliport plan for the U.S. forces, Defense Vice Minister Masahiro Akiyama stressed Monday.

The gap should be narrowed before a planned meeting between Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota in late April, he said. “To make better strides forward from the situation created on Feb. 6, both Okinawa and the central government should sort out the necessary conditions with each other,” Akiyama told a regular news conference in Tokyo.

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