U.S. urges Japan to allow relocation

WASHINGTON – The United States urged Japan on Friday to decide by the coming Friday whether it will implement the current plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, citing the need to compile its fiscal 2011 budget, a Japanese lawmaker said.

Mikio Shimoji, the policy research committee head of the People’s New Party, a junior partner in the Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition, discussed the Futenma issue with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and other U.S. officials at the State Department in Washington on Friday.

According to Shimoji, the U.S. indicated that if the Japanese government would not accept the current plan, the U.S. government could not request an allocation for the planned transfer of 8,000 U.S. Marines based in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam in the budget requests for fiscal 2011, which cover October 2010 through September 2011.
Shimoji is expected to relay the U.S. stance to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama after returning to Japan.

If Tokyo chooses not to accept the current plan, the U.S. said, citing the difficult budget process, the U.S. government would allocate funding originally intended for the transfer of the Marines to Guam for other purposes in the fiscal 2011 budget to be compiled in February.

Also, Campbell reportedly told Shimoji that he took seriously the fact that Hatoyama had said to President Barack Obama, “Trust me,” at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in November in Tokyo, emphasizing that Hatoyama had promised to accept the current relocation plan at an early stage at the meeting, while indicating his disappointment toward Hatoyama’s handling of the issue since the meeting.
Shimoji called for their understanding of the difficulties in implementing the current plan.

Shimoji said: “There is a higher risk in implementing it [than other options]. The issue can’t be solved easily due to the situation in the prefecture and the state of the three-party coalition government.”

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