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Yokosuka mayor Ryoichi Kabaya told Japanese reporters last week that the city would be willing to accept the deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun.

In 2008, the USS George Washington is to replace the conventionally powered carrier USS Kitty Hawk at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

Soon after the deployment plan was revealed in October, Kabaya, in a joint campaign with Kanagawa prefecture Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, pledged to demand the central government reconsider the decision.

But Kabaya, the Asahi reported, was swayed after receiving a U.S. document providing a detailed explanation of the functions and safety of U.S. nuclear-powered warships.

“If the document is reliable, then I can’t think of any reason to object,” Kabaya is said to have told reporters Monday.

Many Yokosuka residents have said a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier would bring the risk of nuclear contamination. In addition, they said the George Washington would increase Yokosuka’s strategic importance in U.S. military operations, raising the chance that the city could become targeted.

Kabaya was quoted as saying that the U.S. document was “more concrete and detailed than I had expected, and not superficial.”

The Asahi wrote that the central government has accepted U.S. officials’ explanation that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is needed at Yokosuka to protect peace and stability in Japan and the rest of Asia.


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