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Troops Realignment to Guam gains traction

Date Posted: 2012-03-02

Japan and the United States began the process of mapping out specifics of how to redeploy U.S. Marines based in Okinawa to Guam, during a two-day set of meetings by senior diplomatic and defense officials in Tokyo.

Japan and the United States are now reviewing the 2006 road map on the realignment of forces in Okinawa, which calls for making tangible progress on relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from its current home in Ginowan to the Henoko coast of Nago at Camp Schwab on the islandís northeast side. Until the latest changes by the two governments, relocating Futenma to Henoko was a precondition for transferring approximately 8,000 of the 18,000 Marines on Okinawa, and their dependents, to Guam.

Tokyo and Washington dropped that linkage a few weeks ago as opposition to the new airfield by Okinawans has intensified. The new airfield at Henoko, with runways in Oura Bay and the ground operations buildings on Camp Schwab, was to have been completed by 2014.

The meeting, the second of its kind since Feb. 6th, involved Takeo Akiba, deputy director general of the North American Affairs Bureau at the Foreign Ministry, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Jim Zumwalt. Under new proposals, about 4,700 of the 8,000 Okinawa-based Marines to be moved will shift to Guam. Senior officials are now discussing issues such as the unit composition and where else in the Pacific the remaining 3,300 marines will be moved.

Japan and the United States have set May as a target date for working out a new version of the redeployment road map.

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