Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hopes to persuade Okinawans to accept the government's highly contentious plan to move the Futenma air base elsewhere in the prefecture once the burden of hosting U.S. forces there starts to ease.

Vehement local opposition has stalled the proposed relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa for years, and Washington is growing increasingly impatient over the impasse.

"I think that if we begin implementing measures to mitigate Okinawa's burden, it will help to create an environment" in which its residents can accept current plans for the Futenma base, Noda said in a Friday interview with The Japan Times and three other media outlets.