Japan urges US to respect 'will of the people' over base
Updated at: 1010 PST, Thursday, October 22, 2009
TOKYO: Japan told the United States Thursday to respect its democratic process in a row over a US base, adding that the issue would not be resolved before President Barack Obama's visit next month.
Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada was speaking a day after US Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly pressed Tokyo to "move on" quickly with previously agreed plans to build a new US airbase on southern Okinawa island.
"The will of the people of Okinawa and the will of the people of Japan was expressed in the elections," Okada said on television, predicting that the issue won't be resolved before Obama's scheduled November 12-13 visit. "I don't think we will act simply by accepting what the US tells us, just because the US is saying this, in such a short period of time."
The United States, which defeated Japan in World War II and then occupied the country, now has 47,000 troops stationed there, more than half of them on Okinawa, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war.