Governor Meets with Japan Minister of Defense
Guam-The Japanese Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa paid a courtesy visit today to Governor Felix P. Camacho while in Guam to tour the island’s military installations.
Kitazawa told the governor that he decided to visit Guam in light of new leaderships in both Japan and the United States and to see for himself the location of the expected Marine transfer.
“As with any new leadership, a review and understanding of past policies and commitments is necessary to appropriately move forward, and I believe that was the basis of his visit,” said Gov. Camacho.
Although Kitazawa did not approach the idea of moving the U.S. Marine Corps air wing at Futenma base to Guam, Gov. Camacho asked for his opinion on the matter. Various news sources in Japan have cited talks of moving all military installations out of Japan.
“Defense Minister Kitazawa assured me that this is an idea that has been presented but has yet to be addressed among their leadership in Japan,” said Gov. Camacho. “I appreciate his honesty in the matter, but I also wanted to make clear that as decisions are made, Guam’s resources and the welfare of our community must be kept in mind. We are already challenged with the present numbers of the relocation of 8,000 Marines, and moving the entire Futenma base would not be possible due to our limited resources and capacity.”
As to whether or not the debate on the relocation of the Futenma base will delay buildup plans for Guam, Gov. Camacho referred to a statement made by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates during his visit to Japan in October 2009. Gates categorically said: “Our view is clear. The Futenma relocation facility is the lynchpin of the realignment road map. Without the Futenma realignment, the Futenma facility, there will be no relocation to Guam. And without relocation to Guam, there will be no consolidation of forces and the return of land in Okinawa.”
While reports indicate that Japan’s new leadership may be reconsidering its commitments in the accord between the United States and Japan, Gov. Camacho said, “Japan’s commitment to move forward is evident in its $1 billion investment into the Marines’ relocation to Guam.”
Kitazawa is scheduled to depart Guam tomorrow.
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