Guam, Okinawa leaders discuss Marine move
NAHA, Okinawa — The governors of Guam and Okinawa met for the first time Friday, promising to cooperate in the eventual transfer of 8,000 Okinawa-based Marines and their families to the U.S. territory by 2014.
“I came with hope that we can really build a relationship,” Guam Gov. Felix Camacho said during the half-hour meeting with Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima at the Prefectural Office Building.
Camacho acknowledged that the potential boon to Guam’s economy is contingent upon the realignment of Marines on Okinawa – including replacing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma with a new airport on Camp Schwab.
“Guam recognizes that we are in this together with Okinawa,” he said. “The people of Guam welcome the Marines. In fact, roughly 70 percent of them are in favor of the Marines moving from Okinawa to Guam.”
Camacho said he looked forward to touring some of the Marine bases on Okinawa, especially MCAS Futenma, and being briefed on the Camp Schwab plans.
“We hope that things are moving along, because everything that will happen on Guam is contingent on what happens here on Okinawa,” he said. “On Guam, we have begun to initiate environmental studies. The government must also prepare other facilities such as port, airport and roadways, to receive Marines.”
“I, too, hope that everything will move forward smoothly,” Nakaima said. “Let’s closely stay in touch.”
Later in the day Camacho was to meet other Okinawa leaders at a reception held by U.S. Consul General Kevin Maher.
“I will convey to the leaders of Okinawa that military expansion for Guam means progress,” he said. “I want to share with them that Guam is poised for sustained growth alongside our core industries of tourism and transportation. The military will bring a more developed local workforce and abundant job opportunities for our people and all the people of Micronesia.”