NEW YORK – Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed Monday to implement the relocation of the Futenma military base within Okinawa Prefecture, based on a bilateral accord.
Genba told reporters that in the talks in New York, he asked Clinton to make further efforts to ease the burdens on the people of Okinawa, telling her that the prospects for the base relocation plan are tough.
Referring to calls for reviewing the current relocation plan, Clinton told Genba that she hopes to move the issue forward quickly by implementing the agreement formulated in the bilateral security talks earlier this summer, a U.S. official told reporters.
Japan and the United States plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to the less densely populated coastal area of Nago in the prefecture, but the plan has been deadlocked due to strong opposition from local leaders and residents.
Genba and Clinton, in their first one-on-one meeting, also agreed to deepen the bilateral security alliance as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Genba told the U.S. secretary of state that the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda sees the Japan-U.S. relationship as the linchpin of Japanese diplomacy.
Genba is in New York for a series of U.N. and bilateral meetings. His talks with Clinton came ahead of a summit between Noda and President Barack Obama in New York on Wednesday.
On the nuclear standoff with North Korea, the two foreign ministers reaffirmed that Japan, South Korea and the United States will work closely together.
Genba and Clinton also shared the view that it is premature to resume the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Noda off to U.S.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda left Tuesday evening to attend U.N. meetings in New York in a test of his diplomatic skills as he strives to hold on to power for an extended period to rebuild the country from the worst catastrophe in its postwar history.
His four-day stay will mark the international debut of the 54-year-old prime minister, who took office Sept. 2 following the resignation of Naoto Kan.
Noda, who was finance minister in the Kan Cabinet, will put most of his efforts into explaining attempts to speed up reconstruction in areas hit hard by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, while at the same time working to bring the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant under control, government officials said.
Noda will use every opportunity to express Japan’s appreciation for the various support offered since the catastrophe. He will also promise to provide all necessary information regarding the Fukushima crisis.