KYODO: Japan, U.S. Agree; 4,700 Marines to Guam; Delinked from Progress on Futenma Move


Guam – Japan’s Kyodo News Service is reporting that the U.S. and Japan have now agreed to make revisions to the 2006 Roadmap for Realignment that will bring substantially fewer Marines to Guam and delink their transfer here from progress on relocating the Marines Futenema Air Station in Okinawa.

In a Sunday, February 5th report, Kyodo quotes un-named U.S. and Japanese diplomatic sources as saying that the actual negotiations to work out the details of a revised agreement will begin in Washington Monday and that they expect the revised agreement will “likely” be officially announced next Monday, February 13, according to the report.

READ the 2006 Roadmap for Realignment

READ the Kyodo report below:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

TOKYO (Kyodo)–Japan and the United States have agreed to move 4,700 Marines in Okinawa to Guam, delinking the troops’ transfer from the contentious plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station within the southern island prefecture as stipulated in a road map for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, diplomatic sources from both countries said Saturday.

The transfer of around 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to the U.S. territory of Guam has been a pillar of the 2006 bilateral accord on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, in which progress on relocating Futenma is a precondition for the troops’ move.

However, the U.S. Department of Defense is now considering shifting the remaining 3,300 Marines to elsewhere in the Pacific, such as Hawaii, Australia and the Philippines, the sources said.

Tokyo and Washington plan to stick to the accord to move the Futenma airstrip, located in a crowded residential area of Ginowan, to a less populated coastal zone in Nago, both in Okinawa. Local residents remain fiercely opposed to the plan.

But the United States has conveyed to Japan its plan to conduct repair work at the Futenma facility, assuming its relocation will not realize soon, the sources said.

The two countries will likely officially announce the transfer of the 4,700 Marines to Guam on Feb. 13, the sources said.

With the Marines’ Guam transfer delinked from the base move, chances are growing for the entire road map for the U.S. forces repositioning in Japan to be drastically reviewed, observers say.

Subsequently, the return of six facilities and land occupied by the U.S. military and located south of the Air Force’s Kadena base in Okinawa will be also reconsidered, according to the sources.

The road map says land south of the Kadena base will be returned to Okinawa after the Futenma base is relocated to Nago and the Marines are transferred to Guam, as agreed by the two countries.

Senior foreign and defense officials of Japan and the United States are expected to discuss, in Washington on Monday, the issue of revisiting the return of U.S. military facilities and land areas south of the Kadena base.

They will also consider reviewing the 2006 bilateral accord that says Japan will provide $6.09 billion of the $10.27 billion cost of relocating the Marines to Guam. Washington could ask Japan to pay additional costs to slash its own defense spending amid budgetary constraints, the sources said.

The 2006 accord stated the Futenma relocation would be completed by 2014. But in the face of difficulties, Japan and the United States agreed to drop the deadline at security talks last June between their defense and foreign ministers in Washington.