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United States Agrees To Move Military Base in Okinawa, Japan

27 October 2005

Futenma Air Station to be returned to people of Japan, defense official says

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless announced on October 26 that the United States has accepted a proposal by the Japanese Defense Agency to relocate the military assets currently based at Futenma Air Station on the island of Okinawa, Japan.

According to Lawless, the Japanese government has emphasized that the plan offers a "comprehensive, capable and executable solution" to replace the U.S. Marine Corps base, currently located near a densely populated area, in an "expeditious and complete manner."

Still subject to U.S. government interagency review, the plan will be included as one of several recommendations in a bilateral report on the progress of U.S.-Japan alliance transformation and military realignment, Lawless said.  The report will be reviewed October 29 at a  "2+2" meeting of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (comprising the defense and foreign ministers of both countries).

For additional information, see "U.S. Will Maintain Military Strength in Asia, Armitage Says."

For more information on U.S. policy, see East Asia and the Pacific.

The text of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final Report on Futenma Air Station is available on the Web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Following is the text of Lawless' statement:

(begin text)

[U.S. Embassy Tokyo]

Lawless Announces Agreement on Futenma

Statement by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless
Tokyo, Japan
October 26, 2005

The U.S. side, taking into consideration the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and based on discussions yesterday and today with the GOJ [Government of Japan] -- including a meeting with JDA [Japan Defense Agency] Director General Ohno and more recent meetings with senior-level MOFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan] and JDA officials -- has accepted the most recent JDA proposal and plan for the relocation of the USMC [U.S. Marine Corps] Air Station at Futenma.

In confirming to us the details of this plan, the GOJ has emphasized that the plan we have accepted, subject to USG interagency review, provides a comprehensive, capable and executable solution for the replacement of FRF [Futenma Replacement Facility] in an expeditious and complete manner.

Our intention is to formally accept this specific proposal later this week by including it as one of several realignment actions to be jointly recommended in our bilateral report on the progress of Alliance Transformation and Realignment.

It is our intention that this report will be reviewed and approved at the Ministerial level in a 2+2 Meeting to be held this Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Again, the GOJ, led by the JDA as the executing agency, has assured the USG that this evolved plan represents the best solution available and assured us that this plan can and will be fully executable in a comprehensive and timely manner, thereby allowing us to return Futenma Air Station to the people of Okinawa and Japan. We look forward to working with GOJ, specifically the JDA, to implement this important decision.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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