News / Asia

US, Japan Agree to Drop Base Relocation Deadline

In this Dec. 17, 2009 photo, U.S. military airplanes and helicopters sit on the airstrip at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station surrounded by houses in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.
In this Dec. 17, 2009 photo, U.S. military airplanes and helicopters sit on the airstrip at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station surrounded by houses in Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan.

The United States and Japan have agreed to drop a 2014 deadline for completing the relocation of a critical U.S. Marine base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa. The agreement, aimed at easing a thorny issue in bilateral relations, came at meeting of the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers in Washington.

Implementation of the base deal, intended to ease the impact of U.S. forces on Okinawa, has been delayed by Japanese politics, including protests by islanders that it does not go far enough to reduce base-related noise and pollution.

The agreement announced here is a recognition that the 2014 completion date cannot be met. But it also commits Japan to complete the costly project “at the earliest possible date” after 2014, and to help underwrite the relocation of some U.S. troops to Guam.

The anticipated compromise deal was announced at a closing news conference of a two-day meeting of the Pacific allies’ foreign and defense ministers, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he and Clinton raised a recent letter by key U.S. Senators suggesting the base deal be re-examined because of delays and cost-overruns.

“The letter from Senators [Jim] Webb and [Carl] Levin about the realignment is really a manifestation of growing Congressional impatience with the lack of progress. We both reaffirmed the U.S. government’s commitment to the 2006 realignment plan, but at the same time emphasized the importance of concrete progress over the next year,” Gates said.

The so-called two-plus-two meeting was the first between the two allies in four years, and the first involving ministers of the Democratic Party of Japan, which has been often been critical of the U.S. military presence.

But Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said the DPJ is now committed to fulfilling the deal, despite continued local opposition from Okinawan politicians, some of whom want U.S. forces off the island altogether.

“Opinions in Okinawa are very harsh, and we confirmed in our meeting today at we will make our best effort to try and get the understanding of Governor [Hirokazu] Nakaima of Okinawa, and the local people there.  The purpose of U.S. realignment, as I mentioned earlier, is to maintain deterrence and to reduce the local impact, the local burden,” Kitazawa said.

Under the 2006 accord, the U.S. Marine base at Futenma, Okinawa - which adjoins an urban area - will be moved to a more remote site on the northern part of the island. The sides said they have reached agreement on the runway configuration for the new U.S. base.

Analysts say Japanese concerns about the U.S. presence has eased in recent months, owing to aggressive North Korean actions, an expanded Chinese naval presence in the region, and massive U.S. aid to Japan following its earthquake disaster in March.

A joint statement from the “two-plus-two” meeting said U.S.-Japanese military aid operations after the earthquake had given “new confidence” to the 50-year-old alliance.

It cited an increasingly uncertain security environment in the region due in part to North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs and “provocative behavior.”

The statement said the United States and Japan seek a responsible and constructive Chinese regional security role that adheres to “international norms of behavior,” as well as openness and transparency in China’s military modernization program.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid