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U.S. military endorses Kan’s stance on relocating Futenma

Date Posted: 2010-06-11

America’s top admiral in the Pacific, Admiral Robert Willard of U.S. Pacific Command, is hopeful newly elected Prime Minister Naoto Kan lives up to his promise of supporting a move of Futenma Marine Corps Air Station from Ginowan City to northern Okinawa.

“I wouldn’t expect it disrupted by the administration coming into office,” Willard says. The four-star admiral says the latest agreement in May is merely a reconfirmation of the best location for getting the Marine Air Wing out of congested Ginowan City.

Willard, who’s been meeting with General Ryoichi Oriki, Chief of Staff of the Self Defense Forces, says relations between his Pacific Command and the SDF are “certainly a cornerstone” of the security mission in northeast Asia. Willard says he’s convince relations “have been strong and unquestionably will remain strong” under Kan’s administration.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has strong feelings about the need for getting the Futenma relocation into high gear. Speaking with Toshimi Kitazawa, the Japanese Defense Minister, on the sidelines of a regional security session in Singapore, Gates told him the U.S. government wants an early agreement on the details of the pact signed last month. Gates told Kitazawa he has ideas on handling issues Japan’s concerned about, including moving some functions off Okinawa.

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