The government is closely watching Okinawa’s efforts to select a new site for the U.S. Marine Corps heliport now at Futenma Air Station, with hope of seeing early progress in completing the process long-stalled by local opposition, Japan’s new ambassador to the Unites States said.

While expressing his earnest hope that the heliport issue — a sensitive spot in bilateral security ties — can be resolved, Shunji Yanai, 62, a former vice foreign minister, said in an interview with The Japan Times that the government should first respect Okinawa Prefecture’s initiative in choosing a site.

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