Futenma relocation necessary for dealing with N. Korean threats, Hagerty says
TOKYO — “Considerable progress” is being made on a controversial project to relocate a large Marine base within Okinawa, the United States’ new envoy to Japan said Friday in Tokyo.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty, speaking to reporters at the Japan National Press Club, also called the plan to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko in Okinawa’s rural north the “only solution,” despite fervent protests from locals who want the base moved completely off the southern island prefecture.
“It was clear to me that there are issues surrounding the Futenma location,” said Hagerty, who visited Okinawa earlier this week. “The population has grown significantly around [Futenma]. The only solution to this date that has been negotiated has been relocating to Henoko.”
While on Okinawa, Hagerty met with anti-U.S. base Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, who told him the relocation plan amounted to “discrimination” against Okinawans, according to local media reports. Onaga was elected in 2014 after campaigning on stopping the relocation and expelling the Marine’s controversial Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
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