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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More