Friday, February 12, 2010

Decision inching closer

Decision inching closer

Tuesday, 09 February 2010 04:05
by Romeo Carlos |
Variety News Staff

Fact-finding mission from Japan, Futenma air base accord expected

IN A sign of progress in Japan’s laggard decision-making process of what to do about the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Kyodo News is reporting another trip to Guam by Japanese government officials is set for tomorrow.

The undisclosed Japanese official is expected on island as part of the second fact-finding mission since December as the Tokyo government tries to narrow down potential sites for the relocation of the air base and select a candidate site by the end of next month, according to sources.

The Social Democratic Party, one of the junior coalition partners in the new center-left government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, has floated Guam as an alternative to the current plan. A government committee decided at a meeting Tuesday they needed to know more about the situation on the ground on Guam and decided to send a fact-finding mission on Feb. 10.

According to the Japanese news service, the committee, chaired by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano, will look at potential alternate sites in Okinawa for Futenma but said they will not exclude the current plan which calls for moving the air base to a less dense area of the southern Japanese island in Nago city.

The source further explained to Kyodo News that the committee was instructed by government officials to come up with alternate possibilities by the end of March as officials would still need to check with the United States and get approval from local governments in the alternate area selected.

Panel members are expected to present their alternative plans for consideration in the second half of this month.

At a ministerial committee meeting involving the heads of the three parties in the governing coalition, which will include reports submitted by the Guam fact-finding mission upon their return, a decision is expected to be hashed out of the discussions in ample time for Hatoyama’s May deadline adjudication.

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