Kurt Tong, the deputy chief of mission at the United States embassy in Tokyo, said that he is hopeful for progress in the coming year as regards the long-running issue over one of the U.S. military bases in Japan. The statement was made on Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, after Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party had been declared the winner in Sunday’s general elections.
The previous Japanese administration clashed with the United States over plans to move the controversial Futenma military base, which is currently located in the middle of the populated city of Ginowan, on the island of Okinawa. “Certainly 2013 is the year when we should break the bottleneck associated with moving the Futenma airfield to Henoko,” Tong said, referring to a quieter, more secluded area. “This is the right time to make progress on this. And I think we can do that moving forward.”
However, in April this year, the United States was able to enter into an agreement with the outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to proceed with the removal of 9,000 troops from Okinawa despite the conflict on Futenma. Tong expressed his view that the U.S.-Japan relations is actually in “extraordinarily good shape,” adding that no major party in Sunday’s election was critical of the alliance between the two nations.
[via Defense News]