US Marines to Partially Move Out of Japan
By Vasudevan Sridharan | April 27, 2012 6:32 PM EST
The marines and their families will be relocated to different parts of Guam, Hawaii and Australia from Okinawa, a key place in the deal.
A joint-statement between the countries said that, the two governments "reconfirmed their view that [this] remains the only viable solution that has been identified to date," reported AFP.
"Recognising the strong desires of Okinawa residents, these relocations are to be completed as soon as possible while ensuring operational capability throughout the process," the statement added.
The move has come ahead of the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's visit to Washington to meet President Barack Obama.
Without mentioning any timeframe of the redeployment, the statement says only 9,000 of the marine troops will be shifted and another 10,000 will remain in the place.
The Okinawa base has been controversial for a long time as the locals have been protesting to move the base.
Mentioning the deal was a necessary to reflect an evolving reality, the Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said, "Changes in the security environment will not wait for us. Japan and the United States have to assume our responsibility and do our part and implement the plans in a speedy manner," quoted AFP.
"The [base-move] problem brought everything to a halt. We must take progress where we can," Gemba added.
Meanwhile, the US is also pleased with the decision. "I am very pleased that, after many years, we have reached this important agreement and the plan of action," the Telegraph quoted US Secretary of Defence Lean Panetta as saying.
"I applaud the hard work and effort that went into crafting it. Japan is not just a close ally, but also a close friend," Panetta added.
Nevertheless, questions are expected to continue about the relocation of the military base Futenma within Okinawa. The heads of the states are expected to resolve the issue when they meet at Washington on Monday.
On the official announcement of the relocation, the Assistant Secretary of State of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said, "This presence is integral to our larger strategy of rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific," reported Aljazeera.
"We think it breaks a very long stalemate that has plagued our politics, that has clogged both of systems, that has made it difficult to deal with the critical and crucial issues that confront the United States and Japan," Campbell added.
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