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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hirano gets Tokunoshima earful during trip to pitch base transfer

Staff writer

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano visited Kagoshima Prefecture Wednesday evening to brief local politicians on the government's hope to partially relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma's operations to Tokunoshima Island.

Hirano met Tokunoshima assembly members, who showed reluctance to accept the government proposal during their meting at hotel in the city of Kagoshima. The government is trying to transfer drills conducted at the base, which is in Okinawa, to the Kagoshima Prefecture island.

Hirano told reporters after the meeting the assembly members said local residents are harshly critical of the government proposal.

Last week, mayors of the three towns on Tokunoshima met with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and rebuffed his proposal to move U.S. Marine elements from Futenma to their island.

Before Wednesday's meeting, Hirano said he can't clarify every detail of the plan because the government is in negotiations with Washington, but he is ready to elaborate as much as possible to win over the assembly members.

During working-level talks Wednesday in Washington, Japan and the United States are believed to have discussed plans to move some of Futenma's operations to Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa, as well as to Tokunoshima.

In addition to Hirano's efforts with Tokunoshima, Hatoyama is also eyeing a visit to Okinawa later this month to try to raise support.

Information from Kyodo added

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The Japan Times

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