Washington pleased with Tokyo's latest agreement on U.S. base: reports

13:29, May 27, 2010      

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised the progress made by Tokyo and Washington with regard to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, local media reported Thursday.

Following a meeting between Gates and his Japanese counterpart Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Gates said that despite impending controversies that still need to be resolved, Washington is pleased that Tokyo has, in essence, agreed to largely stick to a bilateral accord on the relocation of the Futenma facility made in 2006, the reports said.

Sources close to the latest two-plus-two meeting between the defense ministers said that in preparation for a joint statement to be issued Friday between the two countries, finalizing the majority of the relocation details, last-minute modifications had been made to the official document to ensure that both parties' requirements on the issue were represented to the best degree possible.

Kitazawa, for his part, wanted the "collective voice" of the people of Okinawa to be heard and that particular requests from Japan's southernmost prefecture be met, such as moving some of Futenma's training exercises outside the prefecture, to ease some of the base-hosting burden on the local residents.

Additionally, reports from Washington said that Kitazawa also called for Gates' understanding on a territorial issue regarding waters used for military training exercises being returned to Japanese jurisdiction as well as to earnestly consider Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's concerns over the environmental impact of new constructions in the coastal area adjacent to the marines' Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, which has been pegged as the site for the relocation.

According to the Kyodo news agency, Hatoyama will speak with U. S. President Barack Obama over the phone Thursday to discuss the final plans for the relocation of the air facility and the prime minister is also scheduled to attend a National Governors' Association meeting Thursday afternoon in an attempt to seek local support by emphasizing that part of the Futenma helicopter units will be moved to outside Okinawa.

Source:Xinhua

(Editor:intern1)

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