Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters Tuesday he will visit Okinawa before he meets the U.S. secretaries of defense and state in late September.

It will be his first visit to Okinawa since he took up the post in July, Nukaga told a news conference after a Cabinet meeting. He said he plans to visit local U.S. military facilities as well as a site off the shore of Nago where the central government plans to construct a sea-based heliport for the U.S. Marines in exchange for the return of the Futenma Air Station to Japan.

Nukaga and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will talk with their U.S. counterparts — Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright — in late September at the annual Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee, often dubbed the “two-plus-two” meeting.

Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka said Tuesday there is no change in his position that the promotion of Okinawa’s economic development and the realignment of U.S. military bases are inseparable from each other.

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