The Washington Post had an interesting story Sunday on the political controversy over the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station on Okinawa. Built in the late 1940s, the air station's 8,000-foot runway is now in a densely packed urban area. Locals complain about the noise and possible danger from aircraft mishaps while the Marines' air operations are hampered by flight restrictions.
Under a 2006 agreement with the then-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the air station was to move to a lightly populated area on Okinawa's north shore. But a new Japanese government, elected last August, thinks the security relationship with the U.S. is too one-sided and wants the Marines off Okinawa – and possibly out of Japan completely. That would eliminate the only mobile ground force the U.S. has in East Asia, say the Marines.
The air station is home to Marine Aircraft Group 36, which includes two medium helicopter squadrons and an aerial refueling squadron.
Interestingly, the same issue of the Post had another item on a possible funding scandal involving a key strategist of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. That could affect the party's voter support, according to a Reuters story out of Tokyo today. Complicating matters: a candidate who opposes the existing plan to relocate the base won a local election on Sunday.
For more: see today's post on my blog, 4GWAR.