• Kyodo News

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A Japan-U.S. working-level group of experts will provide two options for relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Camp Schwab in Nago’s Henoko district, a draft report showed Sunday.

With two key Okinawa elections scheduled for September and November, the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has decided to shelve the runway issue until after the polls, sources said earlier.

Both plans aim to achieve the task by reclaiming waters off the coast of Henoko, but one calls for two runways in a V-shaped formation while the other envisages the building of a single runway, an option expected to reduce the need for reclaimed land by 25 percent, the draft says.

The V-shaped runways would take up an area of 205 hectares, requiring reclamation of 160 hectares, and would avoid helicopter flights over land, the draft shows.

The plan has reportedly gained support from the mainstream officials in Washington, especially the U.S. Department of Defense, as it is believed to provide superior operability in a time of emergency.

The project to build a single runway, an idea floated by Japan, in contrast, would measure 150 hectares, with land created by landfill totaling 120 hectares, the draft shows.

Japan argues that a single runway would be less harmful to the environment but would entail flights over a nearby golf course and hotels.

It envisions joint use of a 20-hectare or so section of Cape Henoko (Henoko-zaki) by the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. Marines, it says.

The final report by the working group is expected to cite both the advantages and disadvantages of both plans.

Under an accord reached with the U.S. in May, specifics on building a replacement for Futenma should be worked out by the end of August.

But with the Nago city assembly election scheduled for September and the Okinawa gubernatorial poll for November, the government has decided not to reach a deal with the United States on the runway type before the Nov. 28 gubernatorial race.

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