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President, Prime Minister agree Troop levels should be reduced

Date Posted: 2004-10-01

The President of the United States and Prime Minister of Japan agree the force levels on Okinawa should be reduced.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged this week that, at least in principal, the military troop levels in Okinawa and mainland Japan should be cut, even as the protective capabilities for Japan remain in place.

Bush, talking with Koizumi at talks in New York, also said he supports the Tokyo bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Koizumi asked for U.S. backing for the Japanese bid, and the President agreed to stand behind its key Asian ally.

Koizumi had pressed the president on the need to reduce Okinawa’s share of the military load in Japan, urging other governments to share the burden of hosting American bases while the U.S. keeps its deterrent capability.

Koizumi reminded Bush of the unrest caused to Okinawans by the August 13th crash of a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter from Futenma Marine Corps base onto a local university campus in Ginowan.

Bush agreed there’s a need for bilateral consultations on troop placements, and acknowledged that there may eventually be relocations. He did not, however, apologize for the helicopter crash.

On other topics, Koizumi told the American president he supports the U.S. policy on Iraqi reconstruction, and pledged his support. Bush also urged Japan to lift its total ban on American beef imports. Koizumi said his government is reviewing the steps it has already taken to combat the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which caused imports to stop more than a year ago. Known as mad cow disease, a BSE outbreak triggered massive cancellations of American beef exports to Asia and Europe after deaths were reported.

Koizumi and Bush agreed to encourage North Korea to participate in six-nation consultations on Pyongyang's nuclear program at an early date. The six countries are Japan, the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea.

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