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Marines quash reports of 18,000 leaving Okinawa

Date Posted: 2010-04-29

How many U.S. Marines could find themselves headed for Guam? Good question, as top Marine leadership tells Japanese leaders their numbers are off the mark.

The Japanese government says it hasn’t been told how many Marines will be leaving Okinawa, but Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says “I have the announcement from the former government about the number of troops and their families, and 18,000 are moving. At a meeting with Hiroshi Kawauchi, a representative of the Democratic Party of Japan earlier this month, American officials told him “forget about 18,000 Marines moving to Guam; we have never said this number.”

The roadmap on American troop reorganization developed in 2005 states that about 8,000 Marines, along with approximately 9,000 family members, would go to Guam by 2014. However, the Marines’ move is contingent on finding a solution for moving Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, and U.S. officials have been clear to the government of Japan there’ll be no Marines moving if Futenma isn’t taken care of.

As for the numbers, if the 8,000 figure is to be taken at face value, it would leave about 10,000 after troops are moved. Officials note there are only 12,000~13,000 Marines on Okinawa, so moving 8,000 would leave only 4,000. “If the Japanese government has been told about numbers of troops moving,” said an American leader, “it’s not a problem for us. It is your problem. The Japanese government should have told people the true story.”

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