U.S., Japan tweak marine exit plan
Tokyo and Washington agreed Friday to move about 9,000 U.S. Marines out of Okinawa as part of the ongoing realignment of the U.S. forces in Japan, leaving about 10,000 marines in the prefecture. Of the departing contingent, 4,000 will be stationed on Guam and the rest mainly in Hawaii and other areas, a Defense Ministry official said, elaborating on the joint statement.
As for the contentious plan to shift the Futenma air base in Ginowan farther north on Okinawa Island, the allies altered their description of the plan from "the only viable solution," as stated in earlier papers, to "the only viable solution that has been identified to date."
This has raised speculation that the two countries might explore other options or other destinations than the less-congested Henoko district. Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka flatly denied that Friday. He said the ministry does not have "any places in mind" other than Henoko.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said the statement "has not ruled out considering other locations," but stressed that the two have already "discussed every possible solution" in regards to Henoko.
Earlier, Tokyo and Washington agreed that the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the transfer of the thousands of marines, and the return of bases and facilities to Okinawa should all be grouped in one package.