Japan, US officials meet on military base row

Japan, US officials meet on military base row Tokyo: Senior Japanese and US officials met today in a bid to resolve a row over relocating an American military base that has strained ties between the close allies.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's two-month-old government has agitated Washington by announcing a review of a 2006 agreement under which the airbase would be moved to a new location on Japan's southern Okinawa Island.

Many Okinawa residents have demanded that the Marine Corps Futenma Air Base be removed from the island entirely.

"We will be reviewing the development so far of the US-Japan roadmap," Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said ahead of his talks with US ambassador John Roos and Assistant Secretary of Defence Wallace C Gregson.

"It will not only be limited to the Futenma problem but will include broader issues such as the troop transfer to Guam," he told reporters.

Under the 2006 pact, about 8,000 US Marines would relocate to Guam, a US territory in the Pacific.

Hatoyama has left open the possibility of the Futenma base being moved off Okinawa Island, and even out of the country, to lighten the burden on the area, which hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops based in Japan.

US President Barack Obama urged Tokyo to "expeditiously" settle the issue during his visit last week, saying Japan's post-war economic miracle was due in part to the security guarantee provided by the US military.

Bureau Report