Japan and the United States have renewed a plan to move American troops from Okinawa.
There are a total of 47,000 American soldiers in Japan, but as part of a 2006 deal, 8,000 Marines will move from Okinawa to Guam and other regions in the Pacific. Additionally, the United States agreed to move the Futenma airbase, currently in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Ginowan, to a more remote part of the island.
However, the timeframe for moving the base remains unsettled and the agreed -pon location for the base is controversial. Many residents who feel that the U.S. military presence brings unwanted noise, crime and environmental damage would like the base completely removed from Okinawa, or relocated to a rural area.
While Japanese and American officials continue to discuss Futenma, the Pentagon will start reducing the number of marines based in Okinawa.
Rather than choosing an option where nothing moves forward, I took a step, under Prime Minister [Yoshihiko] Noda's guidance, to first realize the reduction of burden on people in Okinawa, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said at a news conference in Tokyo.
Late last year, U.S. President Barack Obama announced his plans to move more American troops into the Asia-Pacific region in an effort to increase security and bolster international trade. Some of the troops will be relocated from six U.S. bases in Okinawa.