Washington: US senators have said that
they have taken a major step to halt a controversial military
base plan on Japan`s Okinawa island and called on the Pentagon
to make a fresh assessment.
Brushing aside insistence by the two governments that
plans should go ahead, the Senate Armed Services Committee
agreed to bar any funds to move troops from Japan to Guam and
ordered a new study on Okinawa`s flashpoint Futenma base.
The language was part of an annual defense funding act
approved Thursday. It needs approval from the full Senate and
House of Representatives, but senators involved said that
their actions on Asian bases enjoyed broad support.
Senator Carl Levin, a member of President Barack
Obama`s Democratic Party who heads the committee, said that
the base plan in Japan increasingly appeared unfeasible and
that the United States needed to control costs.
"This is a major step to put all these changes on hold
and to require some analysis of cost and to take an honest
look at what the current plans are and what the alternatives
are," Levin told reporters on a conference call yesterday.
The Senate intervened even though the Obama
administration had put its foot down with Japan, insisting
that the base plan could not be changed. One Japanese prime
minister, Yukio Hatoyama, resigned last year after failing to
fulfill campaign promises to come up with a new plan on the
"I think people have kind of hidden their heads in the
sand because everyone just says, `We`ve got a plan, we`re
going to keep going.` But the problem is the current plan
isn`t affordable, it`s not workable," Levin said.