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US likely to scale down plans for bases in Japan

Japanese officials and media reported, however, that only 4,700 of the Marines would end up in Guam.

Updated: Feb 09, 2012, 14:18 PM IST

Washington: Faced with budgetary pressure and
strong local resistance, the US is likely to scale back its
plans to build key bases in Japan and Guam, a media report
said on Thursday, as the Pentagon announced to withdraw some 8,000
marines from Okinawa island in Japan.

"Washington`s inability to resolve its basing
arrangements on Okinawa, as well as the rising price tag of a
related plan for a USD 23 billion military buildup on Guam,
underscore the challenges facing the Obama administration as
it seeks to make a strategic `pivot` toward the Pacific after
a decade of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," The
Washington Post reported.

The report came after the US and Japan in a joint
statement said that the two governments have started official
discussions to adjust their current posture plans set forth in
the Realignment Roadmap, in particular delinking both the
movement of Marines to Guam and resulting land returns south
of Kadena from progress on the Futenma Replacement Facility.

"We are also reviewing the unit composition and the
number of Marines who will relocate to Guam and we continue to
be committed to achieving an end-state Marine presence
remaining on Okinawa in line with the Roadmap," it said.

In the statement, the two countries said both sides
underscore that the development of Guam as a strategic hub,
with an operational Marine Corps presence including Marines
relocated from Okinawa, remains an essential part of the
Alliance’s Asia-Pacific Strategy.

"The enduring US-Japan Alliance is dedicated to the
security of Japan and to the maintenance of peace and security
in the Asia-Pacific region. These efforts will continue to
strengthen the Alliance," Pentagon Press Secretary George
Little said.

However, he did not give details of the troop location.
"It is premature to discuss troop numbers or specific
locations associated with the relocation of Marines from
Okinawa," he said.

The Department of Defence`s new strategic guidance
emphasizes the importance of the Asia-Pacific Region and our
rebalancing toward and within the region, he said, adding that
a critical component to the success of this strategy continues
to be the American presence and military cooperation with its
longstanding ally, Japan.

According to The Post, US military officials had planned
to relocate the 8,000 Marines and their families to Guam in
2014 as part of a massive military expansion on the US
territory in the Pacific.

Japanese officials and media reported, however, that only
4,700 of the Marines would end up in Guam, a sign that the
Pentagon is reconsidering its plans there, it added.