Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chronology of key events related to U.S. Marines' facility in Okinawa

Chronology of key events related to U.S. Marines' facility in Okinawa

Dec 14 10:05 PM US/Eastern

TOKYO, Dec. 15 (AP) - (Kyodo) — The following is a chronology of major events related to the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Sept. 1995 -- A local schoolgirl is gang-raped by three U.S. servicemen on the island of Okinawa, fueling anger among local residents opposed to U.S. military bases.

April 1996 -- Japan and the United States agree that the Futemma base be returned within five to seven years.

Dec. 1996 -- In the final report issued by a bilateral special action committee, the two countries agree that a heliport be built off the island's east coast to move Futemma's heliport functions there. Waters off the Henoko area near the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Schwab in Nago are considered as a possible relocation site.

Dec. 1999 -- The government endorses a plan to relocate Futemma to a facility to be built on the shores of Henoko.

July 2002 -- The central government agrees with Okinawa Prefecture and other local municipalities on a basic construction plan -- to reclaim land on an atoll reef off Henoko and build a runway on it.

Aug. 2004 -- A Marine helicopter crashes into Okinawa International University in Ginowan, leaving three crew members injured.

Oct. 2005 -- Japan and the United States change plans and agree to build a facility with one runway on the shores of the Marine camp instead of building one off Henoko.

April 2006 -- The central government agrees with the city of Nago to construct two runways in a V-shape formation on the camp's shores.

May 2006 -- Japan and the United States agree on a road map for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, featuring the plan to build two runways in a V-shaped configuration on the coastal area of Camp Schwab. The accord also calls for relocating the Futemma base to the new facility by 2014, and to transfer 8,000 Marines to Guam, also by 2014.

Dec. 2006 -- Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima takes office and demands that the runways be built further offshore than planned.

July 2008 -- The Democratic Party of Japan unveils "Okinawa Vision in which it seeks to move Futemma's functions out of the prefecture and eventually outside Japan.


Sept. 16 -- DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama takes office, launches a three-party coalition government led by his party.

Sept. 25 -- Hatoyama says his government will aim to move the Futemma facility out of Okinawa.

Oct. 23 -- Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada proposes consolidating the facility into the nearby U.S. Kadena Air Base.

Nov. 8 -- Okinawa residents stage a mass rally to oppose relocating Futemma elsewhere in the prefecture.

Nov. 13 -- Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama agree that their governments will seek to expeditiously reach a conclusion on the relocation issue.

Nov. 17 -- Japan and the United States hold the first meeting of a high-level working group to study the relocation plan.

Dec. 15 -- Japan formulates a policy on the issue after the three coalition parties agree on it.

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