The government on Tuesday held its first conference aimed at discussing the use of land in Okinawa that is to be vacated when U.S. military bases, including the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, are relocated.

Members of the committee in question include Koji Omi, state minister in charge of Okinawa issues; Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine; Seiko Higa, mayor of the city of Ginowan, site of the Futenma base; and Choichi Hentona, mayor of Chatan, site of Camp Kuwae.

Omi told the conference that the government will work hard to find new uses for the vacated land.

He also said that the state, prefecture and related municipalities would cooperate closely on the issue as it is an important one in terms of the development of the prefecture.

Higa said there are several problems to be faced, including difficulties in building a consensus among owners of the land, as well as environmental issues such as how the land can be restored to its original state.

Higa said the problems cannot be solved by local governments alone and asked for the central government’s help.

The relocation of the Futenma facility, Camp Kuwae and other bases are in line with a report compiled in 1996 by the bilateral Special Action Committee on Okinawa aimed at consolidating U.S. bases in Okinawa.

The committee will coordinate activities between eight local municipalities and central government ministries, the officials said.

The committee is also expected to focus on studying the environment in the concerned areas and looking for buried cultural properties.

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