Japan PM Hatoyama wants U.S. base moved by 2014

The centre-left government led by Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power in September.

Japan PM Hatoyama wants U.S. base moved by 2014

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said on Wednesday he wanted a plan to move a controversial U.S. military base on the southern island of Okinawa completed by 2014, in line with a 2006 agreement with Washington.

Hatoyama had said on Tuesday he needed several more months to discuss alternative locations for the base with his party's two coalition allies.

The centre-left government led by Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to power in September.

The top U.S. Marine officer said earlier on Wednesday that Hatoyama's decision to spend a few months discussing alternative locations for the Futenma Marine base was "unfortunate". but Hatoyama said a hasty decision would be irresponsible.

Hatoyama defended his decision, saying: "I don't think the Marines are satisfied, but the Japanese government has its own thoughts. I would like to seek their understanding through negotiations at any cost."

"Our agreement with the United States is to complete the move by 2014," Hatoyama told reporters.

"We have several months to look for a site and both the ruling coalition and the government are conducting research to reach a conclusion," he said.

The United States, which defeated Japan in World War II and then occupied the country, now has 47,000 troops stationed there, more than half of them on Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

Their presence has often caused friction with the local community, especially when American soldiers have committed crimes.

Okinawans reacted with fury to the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl by three US servicemen. Demands to close the base on safety grounds grew when a US helicopter crashed in the grounds of a local university in 2004.

A flashpoint has been the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Base, located in a crowded urban area.



Agencies

Last Mod: 16 Aralık 2009, 11:42
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