Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan
and the head of the US military Pacific Command, Admiral
Robert Willard, has agreed to work closely on the planned
relocation of the US Marine Corps` Futenma airbase in Okinawa
Prefecture, the Foreign Ministry said.
Kan told Willard at the premier`s office that Japan needs
continued cooperation from the United States to ease the
burden on the people of Okinawa of hosting the bulk of US
forces in Japan, the ministry said.
Kan said making meaningful burden reduction efforts for
the southwestern Japanese prefecture will be crucial to
winning understanding on relocation within the prefecture,
agreed by the two countries in May.
Japan and the United States have agreed to transfer the
heliport functions of the Futenma Air Station, located in a
crowded residential area of Ginowan, to the less populated
Henoko district in Nago.
But strong opposition remains among many people in the
prefecture partly because Kan`s predecessor Yukio Hatoyama
last year promised to move the air station out of the island
Kan and Willard also agreed that the long-standing
security alliance between the two countries is essential for
ensuring stability and prosperity in Japan and the surrounding
Willard, who heads the Hawaii-based command overseeing
all US military operations in the Asia-Pacific region, also
paid a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.
Despite some difficulties over the planned Futenma
relocation, Willard told Okada at the start of their talks,
"All in all, the US-Japan relationship is as strong as ever."
Among other topics, Kan and Okada separately discussed
with Willard regional security issues, including those related
to North Korea, according to the ministry.