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US denies Friday deadline for Japan`s decision on Okinawa base

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 14:01

Washington: The United States denied claims by a Japanese lawmaker last week that Washington wants Tokyo to decide by Friday what to do with the vexing issue of where to relocate a key US military airfield in Japan`s Okinawa Prefecture.

"I`m not aware that we`ve set any kind of hard and fast deadline," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday, noting the United States remains "open" to continuing to help Tokyo`s policy review on the issue.

He was referring to remarks by Mikio Shimoji, policy chief of the People`s New Party, who said that US officials he met in Washington last week said Tokyo should come up with a decision by Friday.

Kelly repeated the US view that moving the US Marines Futemma Air Station within Okinawa in accordance with a 2006 bilateral deal is the best solution to the issue.
Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Monday that his government will decide its policy Tuesday on the issue, which is likely to involve not fixing a relocation site for
the Futemma base until next year and minimizing the risks to residents posed by the facility as soon as possible.

Hatoyama is hoping to explain his policy to U.S. President Barack Obama if they converse on the fringes of a meeting of state leaders at a UN climate conference in Copenhagen on Friday, sources said.


First Published: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 14:01
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