Japan believes the U.S. Air Force might move the 5th Air Force headquarters from the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo to Hawaii instead of Guam as expected, according to Japan-U.S. relations sources.

The U.S. Air Force recently said it plans to move the 13th Air Force from the Andersen base on Guam to Hickam field on Oahu, the sources said.

The air force also plans to downsize the 13th Air Force and subsequently transform it into a new “war-fighting headquarters” command in Hawaii in the fall, the sources said.

They said Japan is closely watching the plan as it could affect ongoing bilateral negotiations over the U.S. military realignment.

Both governments are discussing a proposal that the U.S. military and Self-Defense Forces jointly use the Yokota base after the possible integration of the 5th Air Force. The U.S. military currently has exclusive use of the Yokota base.

Maj. Gen. Edward Rice was quoted in recent U.S. reports as saying the transfer plan involving the 13th Air Force was aimed at providing “responsive and forced joint air component command and control in the Pacific.”

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