06:59 GMT +322 September 2019
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    MV-22 Ospreys are seen at the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the surrounding area from an observation deck at a park in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture

    From Occupation to Disneyfication: Okinawa Trades US Base for US Resort

    © AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko
    Asia & Pacific
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    The Japanese government has reportedly signaled its support for the construction of a Disney resort facility in Okinawa after the relocation of a US air base.

    Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated the government's "full support" for plans to build a Disney Resort on land which will be vacated after the relocation of a key US air base from the city of Ginowan in Okinawa Prefecture, according to media reports.

    The statement came after Suga's talks with Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima earlier in the day.

    According to Suga, he heard a "very much dream-inspiring" idea from Sakima, and pledged that in order to realize it, the government "will pledge to work everything out."

    He said that he had already introduced executives at Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea theme parks, to the Ginowan Mayor.

    Suga promised that the government will "convey the city of Ginowan's strong request [to Oriental Land] and fully cooperate with the city".

    According to Japanese media, the move is aimed at finally resolving the gridlock over the relocation of US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is located in a heavily populated area of Ginowan.

    Under an agreement between Tokyo and Washington, the air base is due to be relocated to a less densely populated area in the city of Nago, also in Okinawa Prefecture.

    However, many Okinawans are against the relocation, preferring that the US military would leave for good. The US military has maintained a heavy presence in this tropical island prefecture since 1945, when 185,000 American troops invaded the island. According to the Economist, some of the bloodiest battles of WWII were fought in Okinawa, and a third of the civilian population died; America did not return Okinawa's sovereignty to Japan until 1972.

    There is widespread speculation that the government's support for the Disney facility project in Ginowan may engender popular support among the people of Okinawa for the relocation of the US airbase.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    agreement, relocation, airbase, government, Yoshihide Suga, Okinawa, Japan
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