Today the United States and Japan have achieved a new and important milestone in our efforts to ensure a robust and operationally effective U.S. force presence in the region while reducing our footprint on the island of Okinawa.
I wish to thank Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his personal leadership and attention to the U.S.-Japan Okinawa Consolidation Plan. This plan is the result of many months of close coordination between senior leaders from our two countries.
Together, our plan calls for the immediate return -- upon the completion of certain necessary procedures -- of certain facilities and areas on Okinawa. The United States will then return additional locations once replacement facilities are constructed and when a sizeable contingent of U.S. Marine Corps forces relocate outside of Japan, namely to Guam and Hawaii.
Under the plan, the United States will consolidate our forces over time and reduce our impact on the most populated parts of Okinawa. Once these plans are implemented, approximately 1,000 hectares will be returned to the people of Okinawa and Japan.
The U.S. Defense Department and Japan’s Ministry of Defense will now work to implement the plan in concert with resolving the Futenma Replacement Facility, which will avoid the indefinite use of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma while maintaining Alliance capabilities.
Now more than ever it is essential that the United States maintain a geographically distributed and sustainable force throughout Asia that can provide for the protection of Japan and our other allies, and U.S. interests. We are resolved to focus our bilateral efforts on modernizing the alliance to meet emerging security challenges in the region.
This new plan demonstrates what can be achieved through hard work associated with the United States’ ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. I look forward to continuing to partner with Prime Minister Abe and his administration to advance the bilateral security relationship of the United States and Japan.
A copy of the plan is available at: Okinawa Consolidation Plan