National

Ginowan mayor wants Disney facility built after Futenma base closes; Suga supportive

Kyodo

The mayor of the Okinawa city of Ginowan, home to a key U.S. air base, has said he aims to have a Disney Resort facility built on a land area to be vacated after the base is replaced, with Tokyo expressing full support for the idea.

After holding talks at the prime minister’s office with Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday he heard a “very much dream-inspiring” idea from Sakima, for the realization of which the central government “will pledge to work all-out.”

Suga also revealed that he has already introduced executives at Oriental Land Co., the operator of the Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme parks, to the mayor.

The central government will “convey the city of Ginowan’s strong request (to Oriental Land) and fully cooperate with the city,” Suga told a news conference following the talks.

Such a cooperative attitude is apparently aimed at breaking years of deadlock over the replacement of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is in a crowded residential area in Ginowan.

It is to be replaced under an accord between the Japanese and U.S. governments with an airstrip built at a less densely populated area in Nago, also in Okinawa, but the option is unacceptable to many people in Okinawa who want to see a visible reduction in the heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture.

By showing the central government’s willingness to help Ginowan attract a Disney facility, it is likely soliciting acceptance from the people of Okinawa to build the Nago base.

A representative at Oriental Land confirmed that the city of Ginowan has asked the company to build a facility there but added that the company “has just received such a request and will take time in studying it.”