News

    Northern Okinawan City Agrees to Plan for US Marine Corps Heliport

    A major obstacle to a sweeping realignment of U.S. military forces in Japan seems to be in the process of being resolved. An agreement has been reached between the Japanese Government and a city in northern Okinawa to allow the relocation of a controversial U.S. Marine Corps air station.

    Japan's central government and the Okinawan city of Nago have struck a deal to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma heliport from the congested city of Ginowan to a remote facility on the northern tip of the island.

    The agreement, signed late Friday, resolves a dispute between the city and the central government that has stood in the way of completion of a broad realignment plan for U.S. forces in Japan. That plan was supposed to have been completed by March 31.

    An earlier plan to build the heliport on an offshore reef was stalled for a decade - in part because protesters disrupted construction.

    Nago Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro says the new location at Cape Henoko, at the Marines' existing Camp Schwab, will be less disruptive to his city's residents.

    The Nago mayor says he is happy that his counter-proposal was accepted by the Japanese government, and he will explain it to his constituents in hopes of gaining their understanding.

    The agreement calls for two runways to be built, one for takeoffs and the other for landings. The new design would lessen air traffic over populated areas - the major concern that had held up the overall realignment agreement.

    The Japanese Defense Agency's secretary-general, Fukushiro Nukaga, met Saturday with Okinawa governor Keiichi Inamine to ask for his understanding. Inamine has called for the heliport to be built either offshore or out of Okinawa.

    A joint news conference had been planned to announce an agreement between Okinawa and the central government, but Inamine emerged from the two-and-a-half-hour meeting to speak to reporters by himself.

    The Okinawa governor says that while he respects the decision by the mayor of Nago, he is still opposed to the agreement, but is willing to continue meeting with officials from Tokyo.

    The governor has the power to block the relocation plan because the prefectural government has authority over the use of the ocean where the heliport would be located.

    However, Nukaga appeared upbeat after Saturday's meeting, saying negotiations are in the final stretch.

    The defense agency boss says he understands that the governor is trying to look out for the overall interests of Okinawa.

    The tentative runway agreement came two days after Japan-U.S. talks in Washington on the overall realignment plan ended without agreement. The remaining major dispute is over how to divide the cost of relocating eight thousand Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. Pacific island of Guam.

    Sources involved in the negotiations say Washington wants Tokyo to bear 75 percent of the Guam relocation costs, which could total $10 billion. The Japanese have balked at paying that amount, and have offered instead to loan the U.S. $3 billion towards the cost of off-base housing on Guam.

    Another round of meetings between U.S. and Japanese officials is scheduled to begin here Thursday.

     


    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora