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Okinawa not told of U.S. Marine increase

Date Posted: 2012-03-23

Japan's Foreign Ministry forgot to tell Okinawa Prefecture that the United States increased the number of Marine Corps personnel in the southernmost prefecture, despite being properly informed of the change.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba says that Japan had received notice last year that the U.S. had increased the number of Marines in Okinawa to some 21,000, an increase of 3,000 from the figure of 18,000 announced in a 2006 road map toward U.S. military realignment in Japan. Genba now tells a House of Representatives special committee meeting that explanations will be given to local communities after Japan ends ongoing talks on a review of the planned military realignment.

The number of Marines in Okinawa has changed in line with changes in the international situation, Genba added. The 2006 road map calls for the transfer of 8,000 of some 18,000 Marines in Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam and for the remaining 10,000 to stay on. In February this year, Washington proposed revising the transfer plan, saying it now wants to move 4,700 to Guam and 3,300 elsewhere.

Genba says the recent Marine personnel increase will not affect the transfer plan, in that some 10,000 Marines will stay in Okinawa. Genba is stressing that 11,000 out of the current 21,000 Marines will be relocated, but did not explain the numbers difference by Washington’s account.

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