WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A leading U.S. senator said Thursday he hopes the issue of relocating a key U.S. Marine base in Okinawa will be resolved when Prime Minister Naoto Kan visits the United States for talks with President Barack Obama later this year.

A series of meetings between U.S. and Japanese security experts will hopefully “accommodate the summit where decisions would be made on the resolution of the so-called Futenma problem,” Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat, said in Washington.

“I feel confident that it will result in the summit sometime this summer and the Futenma matter will be resolved,” Inouye added.

Japan and the United States have agreed to transfer U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a residential area to a less densely populated coastal area farther north on Okinawa Island, but the plan has been stymied by local opposition. The Okinawa governor is seeking to move the base out of the prefecture.

Touching on the burdens that hosting U.S. bases in Okinawa, Inouye said, “We can’t ignore the concerns of the people of Japan.” But he added the U.S. side has been patient, although it cannot wait indefinitely.

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