Kan visits Okinawa amid row over US base relocation
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 15:36
Naha (Japan): Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan made a visit to Okinawa Prefecture Wednesday, amid strong criticism from locals for an agreement reached between Tokyo and Washington in May, to relocate a key US military base within the island prefecture.

This is Kan's first visit to Okinawa since he took office earlier this month. He attended a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa that killed over 200,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians in the closing days of World War II.

Kan is expected to hold talks with Okinawa Gov Hirokazu Nakaima later today.

The premier says he will respect the Japan-US accord announced May 28 to move the US Marine Corps Futemma Air Station from a crowded residential area to a less populated coastal area in Okinawa, despite calls from locals to relocate the base outside the prefecture.

Kan also says his government will make every effort to ease the burden on the people in the prefecture, which hosts over 70 per cent of US military facilities located in Japan.

Today also marked the 50th anniversary of the bilateral security treaty -- the reason behind the US military presence in Japan -- entering into force.

Kan's predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, stepped down to take responsibility for the political confusion partly caused by the Futemma relocation issue.


First Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2010, 15:36

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