NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa will hold some drills in Guam and other locations outside the prefecture to reduce the burden the drills place on Okinawans, the commandant of the corps told Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine.
“It is a part of our continued effort to reduce imposition and intrusion on the quality of life by conducting training in as many different locations as we can,” Gen. James Jones told the governor Monday at the prefectural government office in Naha.
The top U.S. Marine said other U.S. bases in Japan as well as those in South Korea are possible sites for holding the training exercises, but mentioned Guam as a “place where we can train realistically.”
Jones made the remarks in response to a question posed by Inamine about a comment the commandant made in the media suggesting the marines in Okinawa may hold drills at a U.S. Air Force base on Guam.
Inamine told Jones that the people of Okinawa wish to see the U.S. military presence in their prefecture reduced.
“The reorganization and reduction of bases do not mean that simply reducing land space will solve the problem. I hope you will strive to reduce the various aspects of the burden placed on the prefecture’s citizens,” Inamine said.
Of all the branches of the U.S. military stationed in Okinawa, the U.S. Marine Corps has the largest presence. About 60 percent of all U.S. military personnel there are marines.
Okinawa, ruled by the United States from the end of World War II until 1972, accounts for only 0.6 percent of Japan’s land area but hosts about 75 percent of land allocated by Tokyo for the U.S. military in Japan.
Inamine also said Okinawa is pushing the central government to impose a 15-year limit on the U.S. military’s use of a planned airport to handle the helicopter operations of Futenma Air Station, which is to be returned to Japan.
Jones refrained from commenting on the issue, calling it a matter of government policy that should be resolved by top officials.
Late last year, the Cabinet approved a plan to build the joint civilian-military airport in Nago, northern Okinawa, to take over the helicopter operations of the Futenma base, Tokyo and Washington agreed in 1996 that the U.S. military would move out of the Futenma base in five to seven years on condition that helicopter operations were relocated within the prefecture.
But the governments of Okinawa and Nago set the 15-year time limit as a condition for accepting the airport, a stipulation strongly opposed by Washington.
Jones arrived in Okinawa on Friday on his way back from South Korea, and was scheduled to leave Japan on Tuesday.
where he attended events marking the 50th anniversary of the marines’ landing in Inchon during the 1950-1953 Korean War. He was
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