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U-turn in Japan decision on US base

10 May 2010 7:12

The Japanese premier has approved a draft proposal on the relocation of a US military base, paving the way for Japanese and US officials to negotiate the plan later this week.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama met with his top advisers to discuss the draft at a Monday meeting in Tokyo, reports said.

The final draft will be discussed with US officials during a Japan-US meeting in Washington on Wednesday, as the premier is set to resolve the issue with the US over the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, on the southern island of Okinawa.

The move comes after the premier’s ruling Democratic Party lost support ahead of mid-year elections.

According to the latest polls, less than 20 percent of the people plan to vote for the Democrats.

The Japanese are angry at Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, for reneging on his election promise to move the Futenma airbase, with more than 25,000 troops, off Okinawa Island.

Last week, Hatoyama said it was “impossible” to relocate the base. According to a 2006 agreement between the US and Japan, the airbase would be moved to a more remote part of the island.

Under the 2006 agreement, about 8,000 Marines would be moved from Okinawa to the island of Guam. This initial plan was welcomed by Okinawans, who have long complained about the problems caused by the US troops’ presence in the town.

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