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U.S. Secretary of State to visit Japan for Futenma consultations

Date Posted: 2010-05-19

America’s Secretary of State is arriving in Japan to confer with her counterpart on the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station controversy, as well as to share thoughts about the recent sinking of a Republic of Korea Navy ship.

Hillary Clinton will meet with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada Friday to discuss earlier mid-level working talks between Japan and the United States about Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s plan to build a pile-supported runway in Oura Bay, next to Camp Schwab in Nago City’s Henoko district. The use of pilings to support the single runway is a major change from the 2006 agreement between the two countries that called for reclaimed land to be used to build two 2,500-meter-long V-shape runways in the bay.

This marks Clinton’s second visit to Japan, first coming in February 2009. A State Department spokesman suggests the two countries could agree on broad directions for the Futenma relocation during the foreign ministerial meeting, although Washington has already spoken against the piling-supported runway because of concerns about both environmental damage and the risk of terrorist attacks putting the runway out of commission.

The State Department says it would require commitment from local governments before a full agreement were to be reached. The U.S. continues to stand by the 2006 agreement.

Clinton and Okada are expected to talk about Korea’s problems as a result of the ROK Navy ship sinking. The two are expected to discuss how to support South Korea’s government once the formal investigation results in the sinking are announced. Speculation has been high that North Korea was behind the sinking, perhaps with a torpedo.

Clinton is en route to China, where she’s to participate in the second U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. She’ll also visit the Shanghai Expo and then travel to South Korea.


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