03:55 GMT +317 June 2019
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    A slogan against the base is displayed on the fence enclosed U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan on southern Japanese islands of Okinawa. File photo

    Will Disneyland Replace US Air Base in Okinawa?

    © AP Photo / Junji Kurokawa
    Asia & Pacific
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    Residents of Japan’s Okinawa city of Ginowan went to the polling stations on Sunday to elect their new mayor in a vote, which may decide the future of a key US air base sitting in one of the city’s crowded residential areas.

    Atsushi Sakima, the mayor of Ginowan, which is home to US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, wants to have a Disney Resort facility built on a land area to be vacated after the base is replaced, with Tokyo expressing full support for the idea.

    Sputnik discussed the matter with Kantoku Teruya, a member of the lower house of the Japanese parliament.

    “The closure and relocation of the world’s most dangerous US air base at Futenma is the most controversial issue of these mayoral elections, but the proposed construction of a new airstrip for the Americans in Nago is no less important,” Mr. Teruya said.

    He added that one of the current mayor’s rivals in Sunday’s elections, Keiichi Shimura, was against the construction of a new US air base on the island, and that Sunday’s vote would seriously impact the upcoming elections to the upper house of parliament in July.

    In December 2015 Atsushi Sakima met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga who said the government supported the mayor’s efforts to open a Disney park at the site of the base.

    Kantoku Teruya dismissed the Ginowan mayor’s desire to transform the Futenma air base into a Disney-themed resort as a populist, vote-winning gesture.

    “The whole idea of building a Disneyland in place of the Futenma base is absolutely unreal and intended to attract voter attention. On January 19 I received a formal answer from the government which said that the idea to build a Disneyland had been proposed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and Minister Aiko Shimajiri, but not the Cabinet of Ministers as such,” he emphasized.

    Meanwhile, a representative of the Oriental Land Company, which oversees the construction of Disney parks in Japan, told Sputnik that they were “considering a pertinent proposal by the city of Genowan.”

    When asked if the political backing the idea had received from Tokyo would affect the final decision, the official said he would not comment on that.

    Related:

    Tokyo Goes All In to Save US Base in Okinawa Despite Local Resentment
    Okinawa Files Lawsuit Against Tokyo Over US Military Base Relocation
    Tags:
    controversy, elections, Disneyland, relocation, air base, Oriental Land Company, Yoshihide Suga, Atsushi Sakima, Kantoku Teruya, Japan
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