Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kyodo: "DPJ election defeat, Okinawa poll" stalls proposed new U.S. military base in Henoko

Kyodo reports snags ahead for the planned new, upgraded U.S. military base in Okinawa in"DPJ election defeat, Okinawa poll may stall Futenma plan: Senate panel," published yesterday:
A Senate panel has speculated that the relocation of a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa could be delayed beyond its planned 2014 deadline due partly to the crushing defeat of the governing Democratic Party of Japan in the national election earlier this month.

According to the report drawn up by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which became available Wednesday to Kyodo News, a gubernatorial election in the prefecture scheduled for November could also stall the base relocation.

The report said the DPJ's setback in the July 11 House of Councillors election ''could weaken its ability to govern, and the Okinawa gubernatorial election scheduled for November could further cloud the future of the realignment process.''

The transfer of some 8,000 U.S. Marine troops from Okinawa to Guam is part of a package deal between Japan and the United States which also includes the realignment of U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station.

The report noted that the Okinawa governor must sign a landfill agreement to proceed with the construction of a replacement facility on reclaimed land on the coast of the U.S. Marines' Camp Schwab in the Henoko district in Nago.

The Pentagon views the signing of the landfill agreement, which it considers tangible progress toward the completion of the Futenma replacement facility, '' as the linchpin for entire plan,'' the report said.

However, the Senate panel report said that while the landfill permit was originally expected to be issued in August, the permit ''will likely be delayed until after the gubernatorial election in November, and could be delayed into 2011.''

On the 2014 deadline, the report said, ''Given the delay in initiating the realignment, that deadline will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet.''

The report also touched on the severe political situation that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan faces over the base issue.

''The newly appointed prime minister has faced political protest from the residents and elected officials in Okinawa for acknowledging that the current agreement must go forward,'' it said.
Read the rest here.

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