U.S., Japan Move Forward With Futenma Replacement Initiative
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 22, 2013 Japan’s government has moved forward with the submission of a landfill request permit to the Okinawa prefectural government in the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
“This is a key milestone that comes after many years of hard work between the United States and Japan,” Little said. “It marks a significant step toward realizing the vision of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap and toward achieving a sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the Okinawan people.”
The U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to relocate the air station, currently in Okinawa’s Ginowan City, to a more remote area of the island. The plan also would move about 8,000 Marines now based on Okinawa to Guam, in line with U.S. defense priorities in the Asia-Pacific region.
“In the April 2012 2+2 Joint Statement, the United States and Japan reconfirmed the view that the current Futenma replacement facility plan at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay remains the only viable alternative to the continued use of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma,” Little said.
This effort, he added, is critical to the Defense Department’s ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and its ability to maintain a well-distributed and politically sustainable force throughout Asia.
Little said that along with the relocation of Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma will reduce the U.S. footprint in the most populated part of Okinawa. It will also enable the return of significant land south of Kadena Air Base while sustaining U.S. military capabilities vital to the peace and security of the region, he added.
“We will be working with the Japanese government to jointly release these plans for land returns soon,” Little said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Japanese government on these issues and to moving ahead with the relocation of Marines to Guam.”