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U.S., Japanese Defense Leaders Focus on Realignment Plans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Fukushiro Nukaga, Japan's minister of state for defense, met at the Pentagon today to continue discussions about realigning U.S. forces in Japan, including moving 8,000 Marines from Okinawa.

Today's session followed the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee meeting session May 1 at the State Department. At that meeting, informally known as the "two-plus-two" session, Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Nukaga and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso to discuss the two countries' alliance and ongoing efforts to update it for the 21st century.

During a press availability following that meeting, the four leaders emphasized the United States' and Japan's shared values and the importance of working cooperatively to tackle the challenges they face, including global terrorism.

Aso called the U.S.-Japan alliance "the indispensable foundation for the ... peace and stability of Japan and of the Asian-Pacific region."

Force realignments under way or in the planning stages follow a three-year review of the U.S.-Japan defense relationship. Among them are decisions to move two U.S. air bases from urbanized to rural areas, to make Guam a key part of the alliance and the Pacific security infrastructure, and to realign the Japan Self-Defense Force to complement U.S. realignments, Rumsfeld said.

A key part of the plan is an agreement to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. This decision, agreed to in principle in October, was finalized last week when Rumsfeld and Nukaga met at the Pentagon to work out details of the move.

The U.S. realignments in Japan will "ensure the enduring capabilities of the alliance, built on a stable, sustainable U.S. forward presence in the Pacific," Rumsfeld said following the May 1 two-plus-two meeting. He promised to continue working to strengthen and improve the two countries' defense relationship.

"This alliance is vital, but keeping an alliance vital requires constant investment of time and effort as well as the allocation of resources sufficient to deliver on the promises that we've made together to our respective citizens," Rumsfeld said. "The reality of the world today is that to be credible, to deliver on real deterrents, to assure peace we're committed to maintain, we need to match our words with our deeds."

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Related Sites:
U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee

Related Articles:
Eight Thousand U.S. Marines to Move From Okinawa to Guam



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