Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota will directly ask U.S. officials later this month to relocate Futenma Air Station either to Guam or Hawaii, instead of to a site in or around the island prefecture, Vice Gov. Hiroshi Miyahira said Thursday.
Ota is scheduled to visit the U.S. from May 15 to 30 to press U.S. government officials for an early return of the U.S. Marine Corps base in central Okinawa, Miyahira said. Miyahira unveiled the request Thursday when he met with Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Teijiro Furukawa to explain what Ota will ask of the U.S. government.
The requests compiled by the prefectural government repeat that the government plan to build a sea-based heliport off Nago, in the northern part of the southernmost island prefecture, to relocate the main functions of the Futenma facility will not be accepted by the Okinawan people.
However, Furukawa repeated during the meeting that the government believes the heliport plan is the best and most feasible project for having the Futenma site returned. The requests also say more efforts should be made to reduce the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, reduce aircraft noise, take more measures to prevent accidents related to military drills and more steps to protect nature around U.S. facilities.
The issue of relocating the base has been in a deadlock between the central and the local governments since February, when Ota officially rejected the offshore heliport plan.
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