Okinawa assembly opposes MCAS Futenma relocation plan
NAHA, Okinawa — The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution against a plan to build an airport on Camp Schwab for Marine helicopter operations but praised other parts of a bilateral report on plans to realign U.S. troops in Japan.
The assembly said replacing a previous plan to build a new Marine airport in the waters off Okinawa’s rural northeast shore with a plan for a smaller facility on the Marines’ Camp Schwab was unacceptable.
“Giving consideration to the process of consensus-building among the national, prefectural and municipal governments on the original plan and the fact that voices disapproving the revised plan are rising among residents of Nago and people of Okinawa, it is impossible to accept the revised plan as is,” the resolution states.
The assembly stated it was “unacceptable that no explanation was given to the people of Okinawa” for abandoning the original project.
But the resolution supported the proposed move of some 7,000 Marines to Guam and mainland Japan. “From the standpoint of reducing Okinawa’s excessive burden of hosting military bases, there are some changes which we accept favorably,” the resolution stated.
It is addressed to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the heads of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Self-Defense Agency and Defense Facilities Administration Agency and the minister for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs.
On Oct. 29, the United States and Japan issued a realignment plan calling for building a small airport on a portion of Camp Schwab to replace Marine helicopter operations now based on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the middle of urban Ginowan. The plan, to be made final by March, also calls for moving the III Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters element, including some 7,000 Marines, to Guam within six years and closing some U.S. bases in southern Okinawa.
To date, five Okinawa municipalities — Naha, Nago, Kin, Kadena and Ginoza — have passed resolutions opposing the plan.