US military leader says Okinawa base move delayed 2 years

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A controversial plan to move a U.S. Marine Corps base within Okinawa in southern Japan has been pushed back by two years, America's top military official in the Pacific said.

Adm. Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said Tuesday that the shift of the Futenma air station to the town of Henoko would not happen until 2025, because work on a new facility has been delayed.

"It's slowed," he told a congressional committee in Washington, D.C. "It's a little over two years late. ... Now we're looking at 2025 before that's done."

The project faces stiff opposition from both protesters and the Okinawan prefectural government. Japan has begun survey work for the new facility, but suspended it for about two months last year while trying to work out a compromise with the Okinawa government.

The Marine Corps air station is being moved from crowded Ginowan city to a less congested area to reduce the burden of the U.S. military presence on Okinawa residents.

Opponents want the base moved off Okinawa entirely.