Tuesday, February 16, 2010

N. Mariana Islands willing to host Marines from Okinawa

N. Mariana Islands willing to host Marines from Okinawa

Feb 10 06:59 AM US/Eastern

HAGATNA, Guam, Feb. 10 (AP) - (Kyodo)—The Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. commonwealth including Tinian, is willing to host the full functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, local leaders said Wednesday, citing economic benefits.

While the commonwealth governor, Benigno Fitial, did not specify which region could be a candidate, Tinian Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz told Kyodo News earlier in the day that Tinian can accept the Marine units.

"We welcome anything that will benefit the commonwealth," Fitial told reporters on Saipan after discussing the feasibility of hosting the units in the Pacific region, especially Tinian, with Japanese ruling bloc legislators handling the Futemma base issue.

Fitial said possible relocation of the Futemma base to the commonwealth would "invite the economic benefit in terms of employment...most importantly, economic benefit that will be received from the lease of the land."

The governor added, meanwhile, he understands that full backing of the U.S. government is indispensable to his future effort to push ahead with the idea.

The legislators from Japan are the Social Democratic Party's Tomoko Abe and the People's New Party's Mikio Shimoji, both policy chiefs of the coalition partners of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

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