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The Defense Agency views the “maximum 15-year” condition attached to the new airport plan by the Okinawa governor-elect as a hurdle to be cleared, Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said Tuesday.

Gov.-elect Keiichi Inamine has proposed the construction of a new airport somewhere in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island to take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in the prefecture.

According to his proposal, the new airport would be used jointly by the U.S. military and Japanese commercial airlines for up to 15 years. “The agency, no matter what happens, must be alert to the security of Far Eastern Asia,” Nukaga said. “In that sense, the time limit would be a problem and we hope the governor-elect will understand our position as we further discuss the issue.”

Nukaga meanwhile maintained that the new airport site should be designated by the new governor, not by Tokyo. “I understand the airport plan (in northern Okinawa) was one of Mr. Inamine’s campaign pledges,” he said, adding that the talks with the prefecture over the relocation of U.S. military installations will resume once Tokyo hears proposals from the new Okinawa administration.

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