NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The central and Okinawa prefectural governments are expected to continue talks on the contentious plan to build a replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the island, even after their “intensive consultation” period ends next week, sources said Thursday.
The two sides are expected to agree to continue discussions when they meet for a fifth round of negotiations Monday, the sources said.
They are struggling to narrow differences over the central government plan to relocate the air base from densely populated Ginowan to the less populated Henoko district of Nago, both on Okinawa Island.
Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga has demanded that the base be relocated outside the prefecture.
The central government has suspended site preparation work for a month through next Wednesday to facilitate intensive consultations.
But the sources said even extending the talks was unlikely to improve the situation dramatically, and the central government was expected to resume the base relocation work later this month.
They also believe Onaga, who became governor in December with a pledge to block the relocation, will revoke his predecessor’s approval for landfill work off Henoko needed to build the replacement facility.