US Official: Base Relocation in Japan To Be Postponed

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior U.S. official says a planned relocation of an American military base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa will be postponed.

Under a 2006 agreement, the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is to be relocated to a less crowded area of the island and some troops are to be moved to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam by 2014.

A U.S. administration official told reporters Monday that Washington remains committed to the relocation, but there will be a readjustment in the timeline. The official requested anonymity pending a formal announcement.

U.S. and Japan are due to discuss security issues, including the relocation plan, Tuesday in Washington. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will host Japanese counterparts Takeaki Matsumoto and Toshimi Kitazawa.

The relocation of the Futenma base is a politically charged issue. The U.S. has some 47,000 troops in Japan, most of them on Okinawa. Many islanders want the bases removed from Okinawa altogether, saying they create noise, pollution and other problems in densely populated areas. Critics in the United States oppose the relocation, deeming it too costly.

Japan's previous prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, was forced to resign last year after failing to fulfill his election campaign promise to remove the bases from the island altogether.