• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Friday approved the continued expropriation of land in Okinawa so the state can continue leasing land to the U.S. military.

The Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau requested in February that Mori take the action under the Special Land Use Law, saying the landowners involved are unlikely to agree to the use of their land ahead of the Sept. 30, 2002, expiry of the state’s current forcible-use arrangements.

The land in question is a 12,360-sq.-meter site owned by 710 people within the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, central Okinawa, and another 360 sq. meters of land within the Naha Port Facilities in Naha, southern Okinawa, owned by seven people.

The owners will be requested to sign a contract for the lease, but if they refuse, the prime minister will sign it on their behalf. After the signing, Okinawa Prefecture’s expropriation commission will be asked to make a final decision on the matter.

This is the second time for the prime minister to give such approval since the land law was revised in April 1997 to shift the authority to sign such forcible land-use contracts from a prefectural governor to the prime minister.

The previous case of approval was for 236 sq. meters of land within the U.S. Navy’s Sobe Communications Site in the village of Yomitan.

Last September, two landowners filed a lawsuit against Mori, demanding that he annul his approval in June of the forcible lease of their land in Yomitan and the city of Urasoe for continued use by the U.S. military.

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