Japanese PM asks prefectural leaders to help Okinawa share U.S. base hosting burdens

19:46, May 27, 2010      

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Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Thursday asked for the support of prefectural governors in sharing Okinawa's burden of hosting U.S. forces in Japan.

Ahead of a joint statement likely to be released Friday by Japan and the United States identifying a coastal area of Okinawa as the relocation site for a U.S. Marine facility, Hatoyama, at meeting of the National Governors' Association, asked the prefectural leaders to consider ways in which they could help lighten Okinawa's load.

"It would be appreciated if you think of the possibility of moving some of the drills of aircraft at the U.S. military's Futenma Air Station and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa outside the island prefecture," Hatoyama said.

"I would like to somehow soften the burden on people in Okinawa, " said the Japanese premiere who asked the leaders to consider the issue as a national problem and one which affects all Japanese people.

Hatoyama explained to the governors about a plan to have Futenma's helicopter unit join Marine training conducted outside the prefecture and a possible idea that would see fighter jets deployed from a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force base outside Okinawa rather than from Okinawa's Kadena Air Base, which is home to the U.S. Air Force's largest combat wing comprised of F-15 fighter jets and more recently the U.S.'s fifth generation F-22A Raptor stealth fighters.

The government, however, in its forthcoming joint statement with the U.S. is likely to announce that the majority of Futenma's functions will be kept within Okinawa, largely in line with a 2006 accord reached between the two countries.

Okinawa Prefecture currently hosts the majority of U.S. forces in Japan.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王寒露)

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