US to Move 9,000 Marines Off Japan’s Okinawa Island
VOA News Friday, April 27th, 2012
About 9,000 U.S. Marines will be moved from the Japanese island of Okinawa to other locations in the Pacific region under a joint agreement between the United States and Japan.
The deal was announced late Thursday in a joint statement by Washington and Tokyo. The Marines will be moved to Hawaii, the U.S. territory of Guam and Australia. The announcement did not indicate when the Marines will be moved.
Tokyo is required to pay $3.1 billion of the estimated $8.6 billion cost to relocate the Marines to Guam.
The deal is aimed at alleviating tensions between the two allies over the longtime U.S. military presence on Okinawa, which has become a source of aggravation to residents who say it has led to noise, pollution and crime. The United States struck an agreement with Japan in 2006 to move the Marines Futenma air base from a crowded urban area on the island to a more secluded coastal area.
But residents are demanding that the base simply be shut down and moved elsewhere.
The U.S. has some 47,000 troops in Japan, mostly on Okinawa.
The deal was struck ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's trip to Washington next Monday for talks with President Barack Obama.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Japan as “not just an ally, but a close friend” in a statement Thursday.
US State Department: Joint Statement of the Security Consultative Committee
US State Department: Background Briefing on the U.S. Military Realignment in Japan
* * * * *
Senators: Plan to move Marines to Hawaii needs Congress approval
SA: The top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee voiced concern Tuesday over an imminent U.S.-Japan agreement on reorganizing U.S. forces based on the southern island of Okinawa. More than 2,500 Marines would come to Hawaii under the plan.
Chairman Carl Levin, ranking Republican John McCain and Democrat Jim Webb have written to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cautioning that no agreement should be considered final without congressional approval.
The U.S. and Japan agreed in February to proceed with the transfer of 8,000 U.S. troops from Okinawa, home to more than half the 50,000 U.S. forces in Japan….
They said in a statement they have "serious questions that have not been fully addressed regarding the emerging agreement." They specified worries over cost estimates, force management and how the plans would support broader U.S. strategy in the region.
read … Okinawa
PBN: Announcement of Marines transfer to Hawaii delayed (Abercrombie jumps gun to claim credit)
FP: U.S. and Japan to announce new basing agreement
Bloomberg: Marine bases in Hawaii said to gain in scaled-back Guam plan
Governor Abercrombie Statement on U.S. Marine Shift to Hawai'i
News Release from www.Hawaii.gov/gov April 24, 2012
HONOLULU –The Pentagon is expected to announce that it intends to transfer up to 2,700 Marines from Okinawa to Hawai'i. Governor Neil Abercrombie, a former member of the U.S. Congressional Armed Forces Committee, has anticipated this news for some time and released the following statement:
“Since taking office, I have had discussions with officials from the U.S. Pacific Command in anticipation of a Marine transfer from Okinawa to Hawai'i. I also met with Okinawa Prefectural Governor Hirokazu Nakaima on this matter when I visited in October.
“As the Pentagon finalizes its plans, I believe the number of marines moving to our State will increase and we are well prepared to receive them. While in Congress, I worked on key legislation that allowed for ample military housing. In my role as Governor I am working to ensure that there is ongoing military and state cooperation to allow for a seamless and smooth transition for our servicemen and women and their families.”
During his congressional career, Governor Abercrombie served on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee and was chairman of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.
Related: Follow the money: $10B Guam pork project benefits Abercrombie contributor