The government said Tuesday it is in talks with the United States about setting up a research facility for new medicines in Okinawa on land to be returned by the U.S. military in line with a base relocation plan.
Relevant government offices “have been considering (it) in collaboration,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
“There is a proposal that we use the land to develop new drugs based on various medical data,” he said. “Taking into account the intentions of (the local governments of) Okinawa Prefecture and the city of Ginowan, we will study the possibility of the project,” Suga said.
About 52 hectares of land currently used as the West Futenma Housing area of Camp Foster in Ginowan will be returned by the end of March 2015 under a Japan-U.S. agreement.
The facility would aim to develop medicines for new strains of influenza, for example, a government source said.
Japanese and U.S. pharmaceutical firms could be involved in operating the facility, which may specialize in regenerative medicine and make use of medical treatment records of U.S. military personnel, the source said.
The proposal is in line with the plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to a less-populated area within the prefecture.