WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 — The Defense Department is committed to the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, a defense spokesperson said here yesterday.
“We have longstanding agreements with the government of Japan, including the 2006 Realignment Roadmap and the 28 May 2010 Joint Statement,” said Navy Cmdr. Leslie HullRyde, a Pentagon spokesperson. “These agreements are good for the people of Okinawa, Japan as a whole, and the U.S.-Japan alliance.”
The Pentagon responded to calls by U.S. Senators Carl Levin, John McCain and Jim Webb for DOD to re-examine military basing plans in East Asia. The three senators — all on the Armed Services Committee — called the current plans unrealistic and expensive.
The agreements — negotiated over many years — describe the linkage between Futenma relocation, the Marine move to Guam and land returns on Okinawa.
“The Futenma relocation plan will return land and facilities to the Okinawan people and move thousands of U.S. troops and their dependents out of the most densely populated southern part of the island to the less-populated north,” HullRyde said. “After the relocation is completed, the average citizen of Okinawa will see and hear far fewer U.S. troops and aircraft than they do today.”
Complicating the situation was the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March. That disaster caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people and left hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.
U.S. and Japanese officials are still discussing the details of the relocation.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)