Skip to comments.Japan agrees to keep Marine base on Okinawa
Posted on 05/27/2010 8:43:35 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
GINOWAN, Okinawa The U.S. and Japan announced Friday that they will move ahead with plans to close Marine Corps Air Station Futenma here and move Marine air operations to a new facility on Camp Schwab.
In a joint statement signed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, the two countries confirmed their commitment to steadily implement a 2006 agreement to realign U.S. troops in Japan.
According to Kyodo News, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama by telephone Thursday. The prime minister later told reporters Obama expressed his gratitude that an agreement was made.
Key to the 2006 plan is closing the air station, located in the midst of Ginowans urban sprawl, and moving the Marine air units to the Henoko Peninsula on Okinawas rural northeast shore.
The plan also calls for moving key Marine command elements, including 8,000 Marines and their families, from Okinawa to Guam once the new air facility is built. Also, most of the U.S. base property on Okinawa south of Kadena Air Base would eventually be returned.
The statement ends eight months of political stress between the two countries as Hatoyama searched for a way to keep a campaign promise he made last summer to move the Marine air units off Okinawa.
Last Sunday Hatoyama visited Okinawa and told leaders regional security concerns made it impossible to separate the air units from Marine ground forces that would remain on Okinawa.
That concern was repeated in Fridays joint statement.
Recent developments in the security environment of Northeast Asia reaffirmed the significance of the Alliance, the statement reads. It did not specifically mention the sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean submarine in March or recent large-scale Chinese navy exercises in international waters near Okinawa.
Fridays statement confirmed the new air facility will include at least one 1,800-meter runway extending into the waters of Oura Bay. The number of runways and the construction method are to be worked out by the end of August, in time for a meeting of the four ministers in the fall.
The ministers also agreed that Okinawa bore a disproportionate burden related to the presence of U.S. forces and measures will be taken to relocate some U.S. military training to sites outside Okinawa, including Guam and Japan Self-Defense Force bases in mainland Japan.
The statement also mentions expanding the joint use of bases in Japan and returning a training area off Okinawas east coast.
The agreement is sure to stir the political pot in Tokyo, where members of Hatoyamas own ruling coalition oppose any relocation of the Marine air units on Okinawa. The Social Democratic Party has threatened to leave the ruling coalition if the Marines stay.
On Okinawa, the governor, prefectural assembly, and all the islands mayors are opposed to the Futenma Relocation plan. Tens of thousands of Okinawans have attended rallies protesting any new base construction on the island.
I hope that Guam does not sink.
In other news, Marines decide to keep Japanese people on Okinawa...
Hey Japan thanks for letting us stay and protect your sorry a***s
Tojo should have thought of that before Pearl got bombed. They lost the war they started.
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