U.S. and Japan Are in Talks to Expedite Exit of 8,000 Marines on Okinawa
TOKYO — Japan and the United States said Wednesday that they were renegotiating a 2006 agreement in order to expedite the removal of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa. Under the current terms, their departure has been stalled until progress is made on relocating an important Marine air station on the island, a chronic underlying irritant in relations between the two countries.
Both sides have agreed to rework part of the agreement that makes relocation of the air station, the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, a precondition for moving the Marines, who along with their dependents were supposed to be transferred to Guam by 2014.
The large Marine contingent on Okinawa, a vestige of the American occupation of postwar Japan, has long been resented by the island’s residents, and many Okinawans want the Futenma air station closed, not merely relocated. The requirement that the Marine presence cannot be reduced without progress on the air station has effectively frozen the entire deal.
“We decided to reduce Okinawa’s burden as much as possible rather than remain stuck in a stalemate by adhering to the earlier package,” Japan’s foreign minister, Koichiro Gemba, told reporters. “America is also committed, but Japan must take the lead in resolving this issue.”...
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