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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid