US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Japan from Nov. 12 with a number of top issues to discuss with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Talks between him and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will likely focus on the increasingly divisive issue of relocating a major U.S. Marine airfield on the southern island of Okinawa.
Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs stressed Thursday that the United States and Japan are ‘‘working very well together’’ ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan, apparently intending to shrug off concerns stemming from bilateral discord on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
The United States has made it clear that Japan should come to a decision before Obama’s trip to Tokyo and in line with an existing bilateral deal that would transfer the U.S. Marines Corps’ Futemma Air Station within Okinawa.
Under a bilateral accord struck in May 2006, the heliport functions of the Futenma Air Station, located in a downtown residential area of Ginowan, are set to be moved to a less densely populated area in Nago, northern Okinawa, by 2014.
The United States is pressing Japan to abide by the existing deal, but Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told a Diet committee Wednesday that he is still eager to move the airfield out of Okinawa or even out of Japan. Hatoyama has also repeated that Tokyo will take its time to consider the matter, saying he does not believe Japan has to reach a decision by the time he meets with Obama.
Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP / Getty
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