Japan's Nago assembly opposes Futenma plan in unanimous vote

16:58, March 08, 2010      

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The Nago city assembly in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture on Monday unanimously voted to support a document that voices opposition to a plan to relocate a U.S. military facility to Camp Schwab as part of ongoing negotiations to modify an agreement signed between Washington and Tokyo in 2006, local media reported.

The U.S. military facility was originally going to be moved to a coastal area on the outskirts of Nago, but that plan has now been shelved by the governing coalition of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and People's New Party (PNP).

The PNP was expected to propose moving some of the troops to Camp Schwab, and the local assembly on Monday also voted to protest this move.

The document points out that to move troops to Camp Schwab would only move problems currently faced at Futenma, which is located in an urban area, to the center of another city.

The assembly did not voice opposition to the U.S. military being moved to Henoko on the city's outskirts in the document however.

On Sunday, DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa voiced his opposition to Futenma heliport facilities within the prefecture, arguing that it would be damaging for the party, because the prefectural assembly has voted against such a move.

''The prime minister concurs with this view and believes the U. S. military should be moved either out of the prefecture or abroad. He knows relocation in Okinawa would be damaging to our election chances,'' Ozawa said.

The assembly document released on Monday said that moving U.S. troops to Camp Schwab ''will destroy the education and living environment'' in Nago, and should not be allowed to go ahead.

In Tokyo on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said that measures would need to be taken to involve Okinawa in the decision-making process concerning adjustments to be made to the 2006 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

''As part of the process that develops from now, some steps to gain understanding will be necessary,'' Hirano said.

Reforming the SOFA agreement has become a major foreign policy issue for the DPJ-led coalition government. While the United States has argued that the agreement signed in 2006 was the best possible plan, locals in Okinawa have taken to the street to express their opposition to U.S. troops staying in the area.

Source: Xinhua
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