U.S., Japan Affirm Realignment Plans, but Extend Deadline
Top U.S. and Japanese officials Tuesday conceded that the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma elsewhere on Okinawa would miss a 2014 target, but vowed to press ahead with existing plans to replace the air station and shift 8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members to Guam.
“It is critical that we move forward with the relocation of Futenma and construction of facilities in Guam for the U.S. Marines,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said following meetings in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their two Japanese counterparts.
The renewed agreement upholds the two nations’ plan to move Futenma to Camp Schwab in northeastern Okinawa but does not set a hard deadline. A written statement released following the meetings said the nations “confirmed their commitment to complete the above projects at the earliest possible date after 2014.”
The governments pledged to release a new detailed consolidation plan for U.S. bases in Japan, reported Stars and Stripes. Japan also restated its commitment to the realignment of Marine forces despite the cost of responding to the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.