As most of Okinawan residents express opposition to the U.S. military bases on the island, some of the marines will be transferred to Guam. During a meeting on Wednesday, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera asked U.S. Senator John McCain to secure necessary means for the effective move, especially when it comes to budget. About 9,000 out of 19,000 U.S. marines are to be relocated to Guam.
McCain is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and holds influence with regard to the defense budget of the United States. However, the Senator made no promise as the budget needed requires detailed information on the military base relocation. Besides the issue on the Marines base transfer, relocation of Futenma Air Station from a residential location to a remote area on the island was also discussed. McCain expressed hopes that the Japanese Government will be able to help win local approval.
The U.S. Senator has also expressed concern on the growing tension between Japan and China, for which Minister Onodera returned with an appreciation especially with regard to the resolution of the U.S. Senate, made in late July, that denounced the use of violence to settle the neighbours’ dispute. He also agreed on the importance of how U.S. forces are deployed in Asia. But he also admitted to continued hearing of “rhetoric from certain authorities in China, which is not helpful.”
Onodera assured that Tokyo will “continue to conduct warning and surveillance activities” in the East China Sea even with less U.S. military presence in Okinawa. He also said that Japan, as part of its commitment to diplomatic interventions, has encouraged China to hold hotlines in case of emergency.
[via Global Post]