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marinemom
10-27-05, 07:11 AM
U.S. Agrees to Relocate Marines on Okinawa
Deal to Move Air Operations Resolves Long-Standing Dispute in Alliance With Japan

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 27, 2005

TOKYO, Oct 26 -- Japan and the United States reached a deal Wednesday to consolidate U.S. Marine airborne operations on Okinawa, resolving one of the thorniest issues of their strategic alliance and laying the groundwork for a broader realignment of more than 37,000 U.S. troops stationed on Japanese soil.

The plan calls for relocating operations from the Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma -- located near a densely populated civilian area of Okinawa -- to another U.S. base on the island, officials from both countries said.


The United States has agreed to a Japanese proposal to move an American air station on Okinawa to the existing U.S. base Camp Schwab, resolving a dispute that had blocked progress on military realignment talks and caused friction between the two allies, news reports said Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2005. Kyodo News agency quoted Japanese defense chief Yoshinori Ono in Tokyo as saying that lead U.S. negotiator Richard Lawless had told him that Washington would go along with the Japanese plan. National broadcaster NHK and other media had similar reports.(AP Photo/Kyodo News) (AP)

"There was a sense of emergency that not reaching agreement on the issue, a central part of the U.S.-Japan relationship, would seriously damage relations," Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

Despite the accord, U.S. dismay at the pace of the talks was evident. The head of the U.S. delegation, Richard Lawless, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian & Pacific affairs, suggested Tuesday that the difficulties over such issues as Futenma had delayed a broader reshaping of the U.S.-Japan alliance. The United States has come to view the alliance as a cornerstone of regional security as China assumes a more assertive stance and North Korea is presumed to have become a nuclear-armed threat.

"We have to realize that we no longer have the luxury of interminable dialogue over parochial issues," said Lawless, speaking at a Tokyo conference sponsored by the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.

"If we are to bring the alliance to where it needs to be in the 21st century," Lawless said, "then we need to dramatically accelerate, across the board, to make up for the time lost to indecision, indifference and procrastination."

The initial decision to relocate the air station was made in 1996, but negotiations were drawn out because of protests to the U.S. presence, heightened by the 1995 rape of an Okinawa schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen.

The countries are also considering a greater role for U.S. troops stationed in Japan to respond to hot spots throughout the Asia-Pacific region as well as an increased integration of Japanese and American forces. U.S. officials have been pushing Japan to take on a greater role in the alliance by bolstering its defense capability.

The compromise announced Wednesday was reached after U.S. officials dropped their demands for a new offshore facility in Okinawa to replace the Futenma airstrip. It would have been constructed on some of the last pristine coral reefs in the area, which drew fire from environmentalists. Japan, on the other hand, insisted on consolidating the operations at the existing U.S. Marine base, Camp Schwab, also on Okinawa. While American negotiators had long argued that there was not enough space at Camp Schwab, the compromise calls for adding reclaimed land off the base's shoreline.

The Futenma issue was so divisive that many here said it played into the decision by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to skip Japan on his recent three-nation tour of Asia. Lawless headed the U.S. delegation instead, extending his stay to complete the agreement before a meeting in Washington this weekend between Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and their Japanese counterparts on broader strategic issues, including troop realignment. Officials were also brushing up against another, more important deadline, President Bush's visit to Japan in mid-November.

The agreement has been hailed as a breakthrough, but many details have yet to be worked out. Particularly complicated is the question of where more than 3,000 Marines at Futenma will ultimately be relocated.

Machimura said that "thousands" of U.S. troops would be moved away from Okinawa. The U.S. government, however, has not yet said where and when those troops might go and has not dismissed stationing them elsewhere in Japan. Japanese diplomats have suggested such a move would be politically untenable given local opposition, saying the U.S. forces should be moved to Guam or the United States.

thedrifter
10-27-05, 09:03 AM
Posted on Thu, Oct. 27, 2005
U.S. deal on Marines in Japan leaves deeper issues unsettled
By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post

TOKYO - Japan and the United States reached a deal Wednesday to consolidate U.S. Marine airborne operations in Okinawa, resolving one of the thorniest issues of their strategic alliance and laying the groundwork for a broader realignment of America's more than 37,000 service members stationed on Japanese soil.

The plan calls for the relocation of aviation operations from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma -- located near a densely populated civilian area of Okinawa -- to another American base on the island, according to officials from both countries.

``There was a sense of emergency that not reaching agreement on the issue, a central part of the U.S.-Japan relationship, would seriously damage relations,'' Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters.

Despite the agreement, U.S. dismay at the pace of the talks was clear. The head of the U.S. delegation to the talks, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless, suggested Tuesday that the talks over issues such as Futenma had bogged down discussions over a broader reshaping of the U.S.-Japan alliance, which has become the cornerstone of regional security.

``We have to realize that we no longer have the luxury of interminable dialogue over parochial issues,'' Lawless said, speaking at a Tokyo conference sponsored by the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.

Lawless noted: ``If we are to bring the alliance to where it needs to be in the 21st century, then we need to dramatically accelerate, across the board, to make up for the time lost to indecision, indifference and procrastination.''

Relocation of the Futenma airstrip has been a bone of contention since 1996, when the initial decision to shut down the base was made after three U.S. servicemen were convicted in the rape of an Okinawa schoolgirl. Since then, sparring over the relocation has blocked progress on larger concerns to the alliance, including mapping out a greater role for U.S. troops stationed in Japan to respond to hot spots throughout the Asia-Pacific region as well as increased integration of Japanese and American forces.

U.S. officials have been pushing Japan to bolster its ability to defend itself as well as U.S. troops based in Japan.

Though hailed as a breakthrough, many details of the deal have yet to be worked out. Particularly complicated is the question of where more than 3,000 Marines at Futenma will be relocated.

Machimura said ``thousands'' of U.S. service members would be moved away from Okinawa, a region of Japan that has been highly opposed to U.S. troop presence. Washington, however, has yet to publicly weigh in on where and when those troops might go and has not dismissed the notion of stationing them elsewhere in Japan.

Japanese diplomats have suggested such a move would be politically untenable given local opposition, saying the U.S. forces should be relocated to Guam or back to the United States.

Ellie

Nagalfar
10-27-05, 10:39 AM
Its not enough that we not only rebuilt Japan post WW2, we provided defense for them for the last 60 years (yes I understand that strategic advantage of Japan during the cold war), I dont ever recall getting so much as a thank you for the billions of American dollars we spent protecting them for the last 60 YEARS, now they are going to tell us how to defend them.. I say its time for Japan to defend itself and pay its own bills.. I am sick of seeing these ingrates of nations not wanting anything to do with us as a nation, but like Germany said, take your troops and go home, but please give us aid for the money we will lose when you do so..

We paid for those bases in blood, AND money.. When the neighborhood you are in starts playing with nukes, you dont start consolidating bases, common sense... Defend yourself Japan, and pay for it yourself, and when N. Korea or China comes a knockin dont call us to bail your lame arse out..