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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid