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International relations

Okinawa base transfer limps along 25 years after deal

'Most dangerous base' caught between local opposition and US security concerns

The Futenma Air Base sits in the middle of the city of Ginowan in Okinawa, posing risks to local residents.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Monday marked a quarter-century since the U.S. agreed to return its controversial Futenma Air Base in Okinawa to Japan, but a planned relocation remains years away at best, leaving a potential seed of instability in the alliance and raising questions about the future of a key deterrent against China.

At this month's "2-plus-2" meeting of top Japanese and U.S. defense and diplomatic officials -- the first under U.S. President Joe Biden -- Tokyo sought to emphasize progress on moving the base to the coast of Henoko in the city of Nago. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi showed aerial photos of the new site, including before-and-after images of landfill work, and said construction is moving along steadily.

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