U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer expressed reluctance Wednesday over downsizing the forces in Okinawa, saying the U.S. military presence is strategically important to the U.S. and Japan, and to the stability of the region.

“We can reduce the number of troops stationed here,” Schieffer said in a lecture at the Japan National Press Club. “But I think we also have to realistically understand that the forces here have a real strategic importance.”

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