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Okinawa governor visits Kagoshima Pref. island in search of alternate U.S. base sites

NAHA -- Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga inspected the uninhabited Mageshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture on July 18 as he continues to investigate possible sites for the relocation of a U.S. Marine base outside of Okinawa.

A representative of the private firm that owns the vast majority of Mageshima accompanied the governor on his tour to provide information on the island.

Okinawa Prefecture and the central government are set to open negotiations as early as July 21 over the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the prefectural city of Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago, also in Okinawa. Gov. Onaga's administration is dead set against relocation within the prefecture, while Tokyo has insisted on the Henoko site.

"Inspecting Mageshima is one effort we on the Okinawan side are taking as we head into talks with the national government," Onaga told reporters at Naha Airport after his visit to Mageshima. "We cannot accept the government's insistence that Henoko is the only option (for the Futenma relocation). It's important to examine every possibility."

Mikio Shimoji, a House of Representatives lawmaker with the Initiatives from Osaka party, suggested to Okinawa Prefecture in May that Futenma's training functions could be shifted to Mageshima.

Mageshima is under the jurisdiction of the city of Nishinoomote, Kagoshima Prefecture. It is about 12 kilometers from Tanegashima Island in the Osumi island chain running south to southwest from Kyushu.

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