Resentment on the southern island has simmered for years among residents opposed to the U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base there. They want the base moved off the island but the central government aims to relocate it to a less-populated part of Okinawa.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, attended the ceremony in Tokyo, with another event on Okinawa planned for Thursday.
The U.S. military said in a statement Japan had made sufficient progress in building helipads and access roads to consolidate military training in other areas and allow for the return of the 9,909 acres.
The returned land is part of the Northern Training Area, or Camp Gonsalves or the Jungle Warfare Training Center, and is the largest U.S. installation in Japan with 19,300 acres of land.
Okinawa, which was under U.S. occupation until 1972, hosts the bulk of the approximately 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan.
Although agreed in 1996, the return of the land was delayed by protesters blocking the construction of helipads. The Japanese government recently resumed work at the site.
Japan’s top court on Tuesday ruled in favor of the government plan to relocate the Futenma base to another part of the island, dealing a blow to islanders’ efforts to get rid of it altogether.
Caroline Kennedy’s holiday cheer is going viral in the land of the rising sun. (stripes.com)
The United States and Japan held a ceremony on Wednesday marking the U.S. military’s return of nearly 10,000 acres (4,046 hectares) of land on Okinawa island to the Japanese government, the largest transfer since 1972. (Reuters)
Human resource consulting firm ECA International carries out an annual study on the most expensive cities in the world for expats, and it’s just announced the results of the latest iteration. Topping the list is Tokyo, which was calculated to be the costliest town for the first time since 2012. (rocketnews24.com)
A Japanese program aimed at accepting a small number of refugees from war-torn Syria is under fire for implying that pregnant women are not welcome. (sbs.com.au)
The organizing committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics says the cost of hosting the Games could reach a maximum of 1.8 trillion yen, or about 15.3 billion dollars. (NHK)
A Japanese government panel on Wednesday recommended a drastic review of school subjects under the next curriculum guidelines to be implemented in stages from fiscal 2020, including the adoption of English as a regular subject for elementary school fifth- and sixth-graders. (Jiji)
The Japanese government is considering opposing a U.S.-sponsored motion to impose a U.N. arms embargo on South Sudan, or abstaining from a Security Council vote on it, it was learned on Wednesday. (Jiji)
Officials at Japan National Tourism Organization say an estimated 1.9 million foreign visitors came to Japan in November. That’s a record high for the month. (NHK)
Coca-Cola has been the top beverage maker in Japan for half a century, but it’s not thanks to the popularity of Coke. (news.com.au)
A luxury restaurant in the posh Ginza district in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward has been hit by food poisoning caused by norovirus, with 49 people showing symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Tuesday. (Jiji)