News / Asia

    Japan's Abe Close to Deal on Controversial US Base on Okinawa

    FILE - U.S military airplanes and helicopters sit on the airstrip at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station surrounded by houses in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.
    FILE - U.S military airplanes and helicopters sit on the airstrip at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station surrounded by houses in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.
    Reuters
    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday moved closer to winning approval from the island of Okinawa on a replacement for a U.S. air base, a move that would resolve a nearly 20-year-old deadlock that has at times strained ties with Washington.
     
    A deal with officials in Okinawa would be an achievement for Abe, who has promised a more assertive Japanese military at a time when the U.S.-Japan security alliance has been tested by tension with China over disputed islands in the Pacific.
     
    The potential breakthrough came at a meeting between Abe and Okinawa's governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, who has held an effective veto over long-delayed plans to build a new U.S. Marine air base to replace the Futenma base.
     
    Nakaima praised Abe for offering a range of concessions to address various worries, including promises of larger budget outlays on Okinawa over the next seven years and the prospect of tighter environmental controls regarding U.S. bases.
     
    “What has been offered is surprising and splendid,” Nakaima told Abe, adding later that he would make a final decision on approving construction of a new base on Friday.
     
    The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to close the Futenma base, but plans for a replacement have stalled in the face of fierce opposition in Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the U.S. forces in Japan. Okinawa was occupied by the United States until 1972.
     
    Japan's ties with the United States were strained when then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sought to keep a campaign promise to move the U.S. base off Okinawa. U.S. officials have said the new Marine facility needed to be on the island.
     
    The Futenma base has been a lightning rod for criticism because of its location in a densely populated area. The proposed replacement base would be built on the Henoko coast, near the town of Nago, removed from the more crowded southern tip of Okinawa.
     
    Activists living in tents have been staging a protest near the site of the proposed Henoko base for almost 10 years and have promised demonstrations if Nakaima approves construction.
     
    In April, the United States and Japan announced a plan to close Futenma as early as 2022.
     
    Abe said the government would study whether that plan could be accelerated and would begin negotiating an agreement with the United States that could allow for more local oversight of environmental issues at U.S. bases. That would mark the first change to the bilateral Status of Forces agreement that has applied to U.S. military activities in Japan since the 1960s.
     
    “We have never even had a discussion of this kind,” Abe told reporters. “We want this to produce a solid result.”
     
    Although Abe remains generally popular, Okinawa handed his Liberal Democratic Party one of its few defeats in July elections. In addition to anger over the issue of U.S. bases, sugar farmers in Okinawa also oppose Abe's plans to join the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora