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Japan stands firm on relocation of Okinawa Marines despite U.S. funding cut

(Xinhua)

08:57, December 14, 2011

TOKYO, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Japan will stick to a bilateral accord made with the United States to relocate a controversial military base within Okinawa as part of a broader realignment of military personnel and resources in Japan, a top government spokesperson said Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters at a press conference in Tokyo that despite the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives agreeing to cut key funding to relocate troops from Okinawa to the U.S.-held island of Guam, plans to move the U. S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station within Okinawa remain the same.

"There is no change in the Japanese government's stance on moving the U.S. Marines to Guam in order to reduce Okinawa's burden," Fujimura said.

Speculation is rife that the U.S. side agreeing to cut from its fiscal 2012 budged 150 million U.S. dollars earmarked to relocate 8,000 marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam, to lessen the island prefecture's base hosting burdens, may derail a 2006 deal made between the two countries.

The deal stipulates that the U.S. and Japan will relocate 8,000 Okinawa-based Marines to the U.S. territory of Guam and close the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station. The air station is currently located in a densely populated area of the island and a new base will be constructed in a coastal region and house 10,000 remain Marines on the island.

But amid increased local opposition to the relocation plan from both government officials and citizens in Okinawa, the central government has reached an impasse on the relocation plan, with the U.S. stating that the issue will be put on pause until a study has been conducted on the realignment plan and the most effective way it can be achieved.

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