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SECURITY > Okinawa

Onodera refutes U.S. marine commandant’s remark that no residents were in Futenma area

TOKYO – Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera disagreed with a previous remark by U.S. Marine Commandant Robert Neller that when the Futenma Air Station was being built, “there were no people living within several kilometers” at the House of Representatives Committee on Security on May 10. Onodera said: “I am very much aware of the fact that there were people living” in the Futenma area in the past. This was in response to a question from Kantoku Teruya (Social Democratic Party).


Neller made the remark at a news conference held at the Pentagon on May 2. This contradicted the fact that the airfield was built while people who had lived in the area before World War II were segregated in concentration camps during the Battle of Okinawa. Onodera said he had personally learned from the owners of land being used for the Futenma base that there were shrines and tree-lined roads. He said: “Land was requisitioned after the U.S. forces landed in April 1945 for the construction of the Futenma base.”


Neller was also negative about terminating operations on the Futenma base within five years. He indicated that the Marines intend to continue to use the base. On this point, Onodera said at the committee: “The complete return of the Futenma base is necessary as soon as possible.”

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