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Japan's PM Rejects 2006 Plan for US Air Base Relocation

Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has repeated his objection to a 2006 plan to relocate a U.S. air base on the southern island of Okinawa.

In televised comments Saturday, Mr. Hatoyama denied a U.S. newspaper report that Tokyo had informed Washington it would largely accept the plan, signed by previous U.S. and Japanese administrations.

The Washington Post said Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada presented U.S. Ambassador John Ross Friday with a proposal to settle the dispute by accepting a significant portion of the 2006 agreement.

Under the 2006 deal, the U.S. Marine's Futenma base would move to a less populated area of Okinawa. But some Japanese people want the base off the island altogether.

Tokyo has promised to decide on the relocation plan by the end of May.

Changing the air base agreement could affect Washington's plan to relocate 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam in 2014. Around 47,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan.

Mr. Hatoyama came to power in August of last year when his Democratic Party of Japan ended a half-century of rule by the Liberal Democrats, Washington's long-time, unwavering ally.

Okinawa residents are planning a major protest against the base Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.