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Ambassador hints at moves to reduce military ‘footprint’

Date Posted: 2005-07-09

The American ambassador to Japan says he understands both deterrence and the need to maintain U.S. forces overseas, but hints there may be a way to combine both.

Ambassador Thomas Schieffer was meeting with Japan Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono, when asked for his position on how to meet the requirements of both the U.S. and Japan, while reducing military burdens borne by local communities such as Okinawa.

“It may be possible to reduce the footprint while maintaining the deterrent force,” Schieffer told Ono, suggesting a deal to reduce the number of troops in Okinawa was possible. He did not, however, talk any specifics about when, where, or how many troops could be realigned.

Schieffer, who visited Okinawa last month and received comprehensive briefings detailing both local and military positions, told Ono the American military has become a part of Okinawa peoples’ lives, and says there’s a “very sensitive aspect to how the military lends influence to the local people.” At the same time, the Ambassador underscored his position that East Asia stability requires Japan and the U.S. to share the burdens jointly.

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