The finalization of the deal to transfer US marine personnel from Okinawa to Guam has been given the go-ahead as part of the revision of the bilateral accord between Japan and the United States. The two countries’ defense and foreign affairs ministers will be signing the revised agreement this week in Tokyo in their “two-plus-two” meetings.
Included in the agreement would be Japan’s pledge to shoulder $2.8 billion of the $8.6 billion needed for the realignment’s various projects, which includes relocating the personnel and their dependents and building the runways and facilities needed in Guam and other Pacific Islands where the marines will be stationed at. The facilities will also be used in future joint exercises between the armed forces of both countries. Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, along with the US’ Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry will be meeting this week and one of the major agenda is to finally sign the deal that would see the reduction of the American military footprint in Okinawa.
This revision is to help ease the burden on the prefecture that has hosted the US personnel for decades following World War II. Both government officials and residents have been angry and frustrated over the delay in the finalization of the agreement and they have continually staged protests and sent complaints to the central government over this. The Guam Agreement was created in February 2009 as part of the 2006 bilateral accord on realigning the US forces. The review began in April last year, but various issues have delayed the process and the final signing of the document. The original plan was to move 9,000 of the 19,000 marines stationed in Okinawa to Guam, but the revised agreement will only see 4,000 to Guam, with the rest scattered across other countries like Hawaii, Australia, etc.