Japanese gov't panel to meet Monday on Futenma issue

18:00, March 05, 2010      

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A government panel will meet on Monday to try to discuss alternative location to which U.S. troops based at the Futenma air base in Japan's Okinawa can be moved to.

The panel meeting will also look for ways to resolve the diplomatic tension that the issue has caused between Washington and Tokyo, local media reported on Friday.

The government led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is looking to modify a 2006 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed by the two nations.

That agreement would have seen tens of thousands of U.S. marines remain in Okinawa and the Futenma air facility moved to Nago, still inside Okinawa.

Okinawans have voiced their opposition to the current agreement and on Thursday, local media reported that the DPJ has told the United States that it would like to modify the current SOFA agreement.

U.S. Ambassador John Roos will head to the United States at the weekend to discuss the matter with the relevant people in the U.S. government.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said that he wants to see a decision from Japan on alternatives to the current agreement by the end of March, and a conclusion to the issue by May.

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