US military gives small part of Okinawa base back to Japan
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The U.S. military has returned a small piece of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Japanese government, so that a road can be built to help ease traffic on Okinawa.
The 10.56-acre strip of land on the base in Ginowan City was officially handed over on Monday, Marine Corps and Okinawa Defense Bureau officials said. The land, on the eastern side of Futenma, will be used for the construction of Highway 11.
The road will help ease traffic jams and relieve a burden on residential areas, which motorists often cut through to avoid congestion, city officials said.
“This land return is symbolic of our two nations’ commitment to each other as we work together to sustain peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific Region,” Brig. Gen. Paul Rock Jr., commander of Marine Corps Installations Pacific, said in a statement. “We remain committed to working with the Government of Japan and local communities for mutually beneficial projects.”
Anti-base Gov. Takeshi Onaga was expected to speak at a Tuesday ceremony for the land’s return. Futenma and its planned relocation to Okinawa’s northern recesses has for decades been the focal point of protests on the island.