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US, Japan struggle with easy solutions to Okinawa ‘burden’

Date Posted: 2005-05-16

Japan and the United States agree they’re working to find ways to reduce the American military “footprint” on the island of Okinawa.

How they’re going to solve the issues are far less certain. U.S. officials say there are no plans to reduce troop strength here, despite some media reports to the contrary. Roughly half of the 58,000 U.S. troops in Japan are physically on Okinawa. Some 17,000 are combat Marines.

Yoshinori Ohno, Japan’s Defense Agency Director, told reporters in Australia he’s working on ways to lower the burden on citizens because of hosting American bases. The two countries are presently reviewing all roles of the U.S. military in Japan, including strategic responsibilities.

A variety of issues face defense leaders for the two nations, including future roles for the Japanese Self Defense Forces and modifying the Status of Forces Agreement, which has some controversial elements that continue to rile Japanese political leaders.

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