9,000 U.S. Marines to Leave Okinawa
The United States and Japan announced on Thursday a revised agreement on streamlining the U.S. military presence on Okinawa that will shift 9,000 Marines from the southern Japanese island to Guam and other Asia-Pacific sites.
The new plan, unveiled days before Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda meets President Barack Obama in Washington, helps the allies work around the central but still-unresolved dispute over moving the Futenma air base from a crowded part of Okinawa to a new site that has vexed relations for years.
Under the agreement, 9,000 U.S. Marines will be relocated. Five thousand will go to Guam and the rest to other sites such as Hawaii and Australia, a joint U.S.-Japanese statement said.
The updated version of a long-delayed 2006 plan was needed to achieve “a U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable,” the statement said.
Snags over Okinawa had raised questions about the viability of the Obama administration’s strategy of shifting U.S. forces from other regions to the Asia-Pacific to deal with nuclear saber-rattling by North Korea, the rapid military buildup of China and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.