• Kyodo

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Naoto Kan, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said Saturday his party will urge the United States to move the U.S. Marines out of Okinawa Prefecture if his party wins control of the government after the Nov. 9 general election.

“Security in the Far East can be maintained without U.S. bases in Okinawa and the marines stationed there. We are considering having them moved out of Japan,” Kan said in a news conference in Naha.

He is currently visiting Okinawa as part of the party’s campaign for the House of Representatives election.

Kan also said the DPJ would appoint a Cabinet minister in charge of Okinawa issues, such as the consolidation and reduction of U.S. military forces in Okinawa and regional development measures.

Kan said issues concerning the U.S. military bases in Japan and the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, which governs the operations and management of U.S. troops in Japan, are currently handled by the Foreign Ministry and Defense Facilities Administration Agency, which makes it difficult for the minister in charge of Okinawa, who is under the Cabinet Office, to directly deal with Okinawa-related issues.

“I promise to appoint a minister who will deal with Okinawa issues in a comprehensive manner to avoid government bureaucracy,” Kan said.

Okinawa hosts the bulk of U.S. forces stationed in Japan.

Recovery in three years

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday the Japanese economy will take “at least three years” before making a full recovery.

“The economy will not experience a full-fledged recovery for at least three years, although some bright signs have emerged belatedly,” Koizumi said in Nagoya.

Koizumi also defended his decision to not raise the consumption tax rate, saying the economy will not become sufficiently healthy, and enable the government to raise the tax, in the next three years.

“It is a mission of the Koizumi administration to discontinue wasteful uses of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

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