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U.S., Japan May Announce Readjustment in Relocation Timeline

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2011 – There will probably be a readjustment of the timeline for relocation of U.S. troops in Japan, said senior administration officials speaking in advance of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting tomorrow.

The officials, speaking on background, would not get ahead of any announcement from what is informally called the 2+2 meeting, but did imply there will be a delay.

“It does not take a math prodigy to look at the calendar, look at the original timelines that were laid out, look at the progress that has been made and make a determination about what can and cannot be completed by 2014,” a senior administration official said. “I think you can expect to see coming out of the meeting tomorrow a readjustment of the timeline going forward in a way that is more realistic and in a way that will allow us to achieve our joint and mutual goals.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the State Department tomorrow for the first 2+2 meeting since 2007. The purpose of the meeting is to underscore the strength and vibrancy of the alliance and its role as the cornerstone of stability in the region.

The meeting has additional significance coming so soon after the triple disasters of March 11 -- the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear situation. “We’ve emerged from the tragedy of March 11 stronger and more vital,” an official said.

The officials expect the joint statement at the conclusion of the 2+2 will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a robust force posture in East Asia and will update the common strategic objectives for the alliance. It also will include a blueprint to strengthen the bilateral alliance and outline alliance cooperation in a regional and global setting.

“The discussions will focus on a wide range of regional and global issues including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan, missile defense technology transfer and the realignment of our forces, particularly in Okinawa,” a senior administration official said.

The 2+2 will reinforce the value of U.S. forward presence in Japan, including on Okinawa, an official said. U.S. forward-deployed presence serves as a critical element of the nation’s treaty commitment to defend Japan and to contribute to peace and security in East Asia, as well as the overall U.S. defense posture as a resident Pacific power.

The U.S. government remains committed to the current plan to maintain a forward presence in the region “that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable,” the official said.

 

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