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Okinawa Governor Approves Plan to Relocate US Marine Base

The governor of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has approved the relocation of a U.S. Marine Corps air station to reclaimed land along the coast, but says he will continue pressing to move the base completely off the island.

An Okinawan official confirmed Friday that Governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved the Japanese Defense Ministry's application to reclaim land for a new military base on Okinawa's coast. It would replace the U.S. Marine Corps base in Futenma, a more congested part of Okinawa's main island.

However, the governor told a news conference later in the day that he still believes the quickest way to move Futenma troops would be to locate the base to some existing facility with runways outside Okinawa. Nakaima vowed during his campaign for office to have the U.S. base removed from the island.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe persuaded Nakaima to approve the move in a meeting Wednesday, after offering increased financial assistance to the island.

Futenma is located in a heavily populated area of Ginowan where residents complain of the noise made by jets and the safety of people living around the facility. Tokyo has insisted on the move as called for in an agreement reached with the United States in 2006.

Okinawa residents have steadfastly opposed the agreement.