Futenma Marine Air Station continues to bedevil US-Japan relations

By Incorrect Author 11 November 2009

US Marines have had an air base on Okinawa since World War II and its presence has been a rallying cry for discontent about the large US military presence on Okinawa for years. The debate has become more intense ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan. Three years ago and after 12 years of talks, the two nations agreed to move Futenma to Guam, an American possession in the Pacific. But, when he came to office, new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama put the entire plan on hold over budget (i.e. who pays) issues. Futenma’s future overlaps with larger strategic questions such as China’s growing influence and military strength and the problematic questions of North Korea’s missile and nuclear ambitions. With Futenma’s move on hold, however, the entire American strategic footprint in the Pacific remains in flux. To preserve a sense of unity during the upcoming visit, Obama and Hatoyama are likely to reaffirm the alliance, discuss new Japanese aid to Afghanistan and the challenges of climate change and measures to stimulate the global economy. Read more: AP

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