U.S. tells Japan no other base plan possible

Reuters India
November 17, 2009

Washington’s envoy to high level talks on the relocation of a U.S. base on the Japan’s southern island of Okinawa told Japanese ministers there was no feasible alternative plan, foreign ministry officials said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama promised in the run-up to his August election victory to move the Futenma U.S. Marine base off Okinawa, contradicting an agreement Washington reached with a previous government to move it to another part of the island.

“The existing plan is the only feasible one and that is the view of the entire U.S. government after 15 years of negotiation,” a Japanese government official quoted Wallace Gregson, Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Asia-Pacific region as saying in the first round of talks.

U.S. officials also warned that further delays to the implementation of the deal could affect a related plan to reduce the burden on Okinawa, which hosts about half the 47,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan, by shifting up to 8,000 Marines to Guam, the Japanese officials said. …

Thousands rallied in Okinawa just over a week ago to urge Hatoyama to keep his pledge to move the base off the island.