U.S. says base relocation plan must have acceptance of local community


LEAD: Local agreement necessary for Futemma relocation

Mar 21 09:35 AM US/Eastern

WASHINGTON, March 21 (AP) – (Kyodo)

The United States has told Japan it will not renegotiate the relocation plan for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futemma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture if the local community will not accept the relocation, sources close to the bilateral ties said Sunday.

While Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada is expected to visit the United States later this month, the U.S. side will likely stress that it is necessary to obtain local consent if Okada presents Japan’s proposal for the relocation site.

The Futemma transfer is part of a broader 2006 realignment road map for U.S. forces stationed in Japan, which also includes the relocation of 8,000 Marines to the U.S. territory of Guam by 2014.

The planned transfer of the Marines may be shelved if the Futemma facility is kept in continued use.

Washington has been pressing Japan to stick to the 2006 bilateral deal to transfer the Futemma facility, currently in Ginowan, Okinawa, to the coastal area of the Marines’ Camp Schwab in Nago — a move requiring land reclamation that has triggered strong local opposition.

Tokyo, for its part, plans to finalize the government’s plan on where to relocate it by the end of this month.

The Futemma relocation issue has remained as a major sticking point between the two countries since the coalition government of the Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party and the People’s New Party was launched last year.

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