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Washington, Tokyo sign Okinawa deal to move US Marines from Japanese Island

Washington, Fri, 27 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, April 27 (ANI): The United States and Japan have signed a deal to move thousands of US Marines from the Okinawa Island in Japan.

About 9000 Marines will be sent outside Japan, a joint statement by Washington and Tokyo said.

According to the BBC, the agreement comes ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's visit to Washington.

Troops leaving Okinawa will be moved to Guam, Hawaii and other locations in the Asia Pacific region, which has been opposed by locals.

Locals on Okinawa say having the Futenma Base near a city is dangerous and noisy and they want it removed from the island altogether.

The two sides have, however, not reached agreement on closing the controversial Futenma airbase at Okinawa.

Japan had failed to fulfill conditions of an agreement over Okinawa, which was signed in 2006 by which it had to find an alternative location for the Futenma air base before US troops were deployed.

At the beginning of talks this year, both countries agreed to de-link the two issues.

In the latest statement, they said they still agreed that Futenma should be relocated to Camp Schwab, in sparsely populated area miles north of Naha, in line with the 2006 deal.

The US presence on Okinawa Island has long been controversial.

The issue has put a strain on the US-Japan security alliance, which both countries believed was important in maintaining the balance of power in Asia as China was rising.

It remains unclear when the troops will be redeployed and when the Futenma base will be moved.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said that the US would now work with the Japanese Self Defense Force to "implement these decisions".

The US has a total military deployment in Japan of about 50,000 personnel. (ANI)


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