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US, Japan miss deadline on airbase row

31 August 2010 14:14

Japan and the US have missed a deadline to resolve the fate of a controversial US military airbase on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Tokyo and Washington were due to come up with a plan to relocate the US Marine Corps base by August 31st.

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said options will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of Japanese and US foreign and defense ministers, the date for which is yet to be announced.

“This is merely a technical study,” AFP quoted the minister as saying.

The dispute over the Futenma base started after the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power a year ago, vowing to relocate the controversial base off the island altogether.

The DPJ’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama failed to deliver his promise under US pressure and was forced to step down.

Meanwhile, the current Japanese government has agreed to the relocation of the base to a coastal location of Okinawa Island, Henoko.

The decision comes despite opposition from locals, who have long complained about the presence of US troops on the island, associating the airbase with crime and pollution.

It has provoked a wave of anger in the country, with the nation insisting on a complete removal of the airbase off Okinawa.

A local court has ordered the Japanese government to compensate residents living near the airbase on the island for noise pollution.

“Due to the noise of the aircraft, the plaintiffs’ … rights to basic benefits from their daily lives are being violated and they are incurring damages such as mental suffering,” presiding judge Yoshinori Kawabe said in mid August.

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