"I welcome the governor of Okinawa's decision to approve the landfill permit request to build the Futenma Replacement Facility at Camp Schwab-Henoko Bay, which is a critical part of the realignment of U.S. forces on Okinawa. This decision comes after many years of sustained effort between the United States and Japan, and it is the most significant milestone achieved in these realignment efforts so far. As I reaffirmed during my visit to Japan this past October, in meetings with Prime Minister Abe and Defense Minister Onodera, and in phone calls with senior Japanese officials just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense remains committed to working with the government of Japan to build a strong and sustainable U.S. military presence with less impact on the people of Okinawa.
"The realignment effort is absolutely critical to the United States' ongoing rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and our ability to maintain a geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture in the region. Moving forward with this plan will reduce our footprint in the most populated part of Okinawa and let us return significant land south of Kadena Air Base while sustaining U.S. military capabilities vital to the peace and security of the region. We look forward to continuing our work with Japan to implement our consolidation plan on Okinawa, and continuing our progress with relocating Marines to Guam and elsewhere in the Pacific.
"Reaching this milestone is a clear demonstration to the region that the alliance is capable of handling complex, difficult problems in order to deal effectively with 21st century security challenges. The U.S.-Japan relationship has long played an indispensable role in the Asia-Pacific. Our alliance has helped underwrite regional peace, stability, and prosperity for more than half a century, and resolving these years-long issues will enable us to take our relationship to the next level as we revise the guidelines for U.S.-Japan defense cooperation. As the United States continues to rebalance toward the region and further deepens its security ties with Japan, the enduring partnership between our two nations will only grow stronger."