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Obama, Japan to skip new security declaration

Date Posted: 2010-10-21

The divisive issue of what to do with Futenma Marine Corps Air Station on Okinawa is enough to drive a wedge between Washington and Japan, with the two countries signaling there’s to be no joint declaration on a bilateral document when President Barack Obama visits Tokyo next month.

Obama’s visit comes at the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and the two countries had been planning to revitalize that agreement with a new bilateral security declaration. It’s not going to happen, sources from both countries agree, because of Washington’s uneasiness over Japan’s handling of the Futenma relocation issue. A 1996 security agreement covering a wide range of global issues, including moving Futenma from Ginowan City to a sparsely population location in northern Okinawa, hasn’t worked out the way expected.

Plans for moving Futenma ran into enough roadblocks that the agreement led to the fall of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s administration, and threatens the long term viability of current Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government, as well. While virtually everyone on Okinawa agrees Futenma should be moved from densely populated Ginowan City, most think it should be relocated out of the prefecture to a mainland Japan site, or completely out of Japan.

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