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Troop movements termed ‘good for Japan and U.S.’

Date Posted: 2006-05-27

Japan’s Defense Minister is convinced the new agreement on realigning American troops and bases in Japan is essential for the defense of this island nation.

Fukushiro Nukaga says the plan approved last month, which calls for shuffling many of the 50,000 American troops in Japan, will allow Japan to be more actively involved in addressing security concerns. “We must take the restructuring of American troops as a good opportunity to rethink our own defensive strategy,” he said during a symposium.

While acknowledging that Okinawa leaders aren’t pleased with the plan for shifting Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to Nago City, he says there have been concessions. “Local governments were opposed to the plans for construction development in the bay, and on land,” he says. “but given the need for security, safety and the environment, Okinawa leaders have given their consent to building the new base with two runways.”

The U.S. Embassy’s Director of Security agrees. Kevin Maher says “the United States now has the burden of providing for Far East stability and Japan’s defense, and more than 70% of the population supports the Security Treaty.” Maher, who is to become Consul General at the American Consulate in Okinawa, says “the base burden can be reduced if the transformation is implemented.

Nukaga, the lead speaker at the symposium, says the “cabinet decisions regarding the Special Action Committee on Okinawa still stand, and I’m committed to making a smooth environment to make it happen.”

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