Japan pushing Okinawa ahead of Panetta visit
Tokyo: Japan is stepping up efforts ahead of new US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta`s visit next week to break a stalemate over the relocation of a Marine base that has stalled the restructuring of US military forces in Asia.
Moving the base is an essential step in Washington`s big-picture plan to reposition about 8,000 Marines from the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to the tiny US Pacific territory of Guam, which is set to become a crucial regional hub for the US Marines, Air Force and Navy.
Senior Japanese leaders held repeated meetings in recent weeks with top politicians on the southern island of Okinawa to seek their cooperation in moving the base — Marine Corps Air Station Futenma — to a less-crowded area.
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