Tokyo: The United States is to shift 4,700
Marines from Okinawa to Guam without waiting for progress on
controversial plans to relocate a US base on the Japanese
island, it was expected to be announced on Wednesday.
The redeployment was originally planned to take place in
tandem with the shuttering of the base at Futenma, a crowded
urban area, and the opening of a new facility in a sparsely
populated coastal zone.
But Washington has become increasingly frustrated by
Japanese foot-dragging on the issue, which has dominated
Okinawan public life for years.
A formal announcement that Washington will go ahead with
the redeployment is expected later today following talks in
Washington between senior representatives from each
government, two US officials said.
Under a 2006 plan the United States and Japan agreed
8,000 Marines would leave the tropical Japanese archipelago,
bound for the American territory of Guam.
At the same time Marine Corps Air Station Futenma would
close and a new facility would be built at Henoko on the east
But many Okinawans, angry at decades of shouldering the
burden of more than half of the around 50,000 US troops
stationed in Japan, are opposed to the plan and say other
parts of the country should play host.
The expected announcement could cause problems for Tokyo,
which was touting the reduction in troop numbers as a carrot
to get Okinawans to accept the unpopular base move.