OSAKA — On April 12, 1996, Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota was meeting with prefectural officials when Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto telephoned with big news.

“It’s been decided that Futenma will be returned. However, a replacement facility will probably be necessary. Please cooperate,” Hashimoto told Ota. The governor, however, told Hashimoto he’d have to discuss the issue with other prefectural officials.

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