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.