U.S. commander indicates change to planned force realignment in Japan
Jun 5 08:54 AM US/Eastern
WASHINGTON, June 5 (AP) - (Kyodo)—U.S. Marine Corps Commander Gen. James Conway on Thursday indicated a need to modify the plan to transfer U.S. Marines from Japan's Okinawa Prefecture to Guam by 2014.
"We have some modifications we think are worthy of consideration," he said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, citing concerns about the concomitant relocation of facilities at the Marines' Futemma Air Station in the same prefecture.
"This Futemma replacement facility has to be indeed a fully capable replacement for what we're giving up on Okinawa," Conway said, adding, "We are concerned about training opportunities on Guam, in the nearby islands as well as the rest of the Asia-Pacific basin."
"So there are some things like that that we certainly want to see considered and negotiated as need be with the Japanese before we slap the table," he said.
The plan to move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam is part of an agreement struck between the United States and Japan in May 2006 to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan by 2014.
Relocating the Marines to Guam is closely tied to another key element of the agreement -- transferring the U.S. Marine Corps Futemma Air Station's heliport functions from downtown Ginowan to Nago, both in Okinawa.