U.S.A. and Japan finish negotiations about realignment of US forces

Japan and the United States approved details Monday of a sweeping plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan by 2014 while giving Japan's military greater responsibility for security in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a joint report, the countries made special mention of the burden faced by Japanese communities hosting U.S. bases. Locals, especially on the crowded island of Okinawa, often complain of the crime, accidents, land use and noise associated with the bases, Seattle Times reports.

About 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents will move from Okinawa to Guam by 2014, the report said, with Japan providing about $6.1 billion of the nearly $10.3 billion cost.

Marine helicopter force will be transferred from the densely populated area of Okinawa to a less crowded part of the island and the transfer of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The final report was adopted by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso, Japanese Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in a meeting here the same day.

Also by 2014, the report said officials aim to move a U.S. carrier air wing from Atsugi Air Station, near Tokyo, to a base at Iwakuni — 450 miles southwest of Tokyo. Residents near Atsugi have complained of the noise.

Under a mutual-security pact, the United States has about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan. The presence includes more than 10,000 Marines, several air bases and the home port for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet.

The negotiations concerned force realignment have been held since December 2002, Mainichi Daily News reports.







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