Yomiuri wrote that today marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the landmark SACO agreement between the U.S. and Japan that called for the reversion of 11 facilities, including MCAS Futenma, the return of which appears to be elusive due to strong local opposition. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press yesterday: “The most important element is to move the installation, which is regarded as the most dangerous in the world, to the Henoko area. We would like to move forward while providing explanations to local residents.” Noting that the SACO final report mentioned the return of a total of 5,000 hectares of U.S. facilities, the daily said almost 90% of them will have been returned if the bulk of the Northern Training Area is returned later this month as planned.
In a related piece, Sankei wrote in a front-page report that the Defense Ministry plans to resume FRF construction work at Camp Schwab on around Dec. 10 by transporting sand and other construction materials to the U.S. base. As for the construction of helipads at the NTA, the paper claimed that the ministry is expected to start cutting down trees today around the platforms for the final phase of construction in preparation for a reversion ceremony on Dec. 22.