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U.S. senator offers bill with Futenma alternatives

Date Posted: 2012-06-01

A U.S. fiscal 2013 defense bill calling for a timeline for the U.S. government to show alternatives to the existing relocation plan on the Marine's Futenma air base is being touted by a key U.S. senator.

Jim Webb (D-Virginia) highlighted the point in a statement issued after the national defense authorization bill was endorsed by the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

The bill calls for reconsidering the use of existing military bases and facilities in the Japanese prefecture, according to the statement. Webb and other senators have pressed for integrating the Futenma base into the Air Force's Kadena Air Base in central Okinawa. A plan by the Japanese and U.S. governments to relocate the Futenma base in Ginowan to the Henoko coastal district of Nago, also Okinawa, has been stalled due to local opposition.

"It is in our national interest that this matter be resolved both quickly and smartly, for the well-being of our (U.S.-Japanese) alliance and the stability of the region," Webb said.

The bill's continued freeze on funding for a planned transfer of Marines to Guam from Okinawa expresses the committee's "unwillingness to authorize funding for realignment plans until it is provided details needed to assess the strategic impact, feasibility, and affordability of the lay-down's initiatives," Webb said.

He also revealed that the Government Accountability Office has been directed to report on all costs of the realignment of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region by March 1, 2013.

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