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The go-ahead given by Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima for the start of landfill work in building an alternative facility in northern Okinawa to replace the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base may mark a political breakthrough for Tokyo in its security alliance with Washington, at least on the surface. But even if the Futenma relocation is carried out, it will not result in a substantive reduction of the burden imposed on Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan.

The central government must realize that most people in Okinawa resent the so-called reorganization of U.S. bases on their soil that has merely led to plans for substitute facilities on Okinawa Island instead of actual reductions in the U.S. military presence.

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