National

Ginowan demands base's handover

Kyodo

The municipal assembly of Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, unanimously approved a statement Tuesday seeking the quick return to Japan of the site used for a U.S. Marine Corps air station, following last week’s helicopter crash on a nearby university campus.

The assembly also deliberated on a separate resolution that criticizes the crash and calls for a review by authorities of a plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. It would be moved to a military-civilian airport slated to be built off the Henoko district in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture.

The resolution, presented at an extraordinary meeting, reads: “The lives and property of city residents are constantly at risk. Our anger has gone beyond its limit because of anxiety and fear.”

The statement calls for the return of the site used by the air station next to Okinawa International University in Ginowan.

City residents have long requested that the land be returned to the prefecture.

The CH-53D transport helicopter crashed Friday on the university campus, during its summer holiday. The accident injured the three crew members aboard. No one on the ground was hurt.

On Monday, the city of Urasoe, near Ginowan, unanimously adopted a resolution protesting the accident.

The municipal assembly of Nago and the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly adopted similar statements Tuesday.

Labor union activists plan to hold a prefecturewide rally to call for an early return of the land used by the air base.

Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine plans to meet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to make a request for the return of the air base.

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