Okinawa politicians push for Futenma base to be moved out

16:58, March 11, 2010      

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Members of the Okinawa Assembly on Thursday urged the Japanese government to relocate the Futenma air base of U.S. Marines out of their prefecture.

The group handed Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa a written request that was unanimously adopted by the Okinawa Assembly last month, and requested that the governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) look to move the air base out of the prefecture.

The DPJ came to power last summer on a number of campaign pledges, one of which was to reconsider the contents of a 2006 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that was signed by Washington and Tokyo and stated that the U.S. military's Futenma air base would be moved to a less crowded part of Okinawa.

Kitazawa told the assembly members that their position was being considered seriously by the government and that a decision would soon be reached on what changes to the SOFA agreement the cabinet would like to see.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said that he would like the government to come to a decision on what changes should be made to the SOFA agreement by the end of May.

The modification of the SOFA agreement has proved a major headache for the government, with the United States angered that a previously signed deal with Japan may not be honored and the people of Okinawa taking to the street to voice their hope that the American military presence in their prefecture be reduced.

Source: Xinhua
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