Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said Friday that U.S. forces have told him the transfer of some of its marines from his prefecture to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam can begin from around 2024.
The governor, who is visiting the territory, received a briefing on the timeline for the transfer after the U.S. military told Guam's legislature that the realignment of U.S. forces will start sometime between October 2024 and March 2025 and be completed in about 18 months.
On Friday, Tamaki met Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and told her that the people of Okinawa shoulder excessive burdens by hosting U.S. bases and that in order to mitigate them it is imperative to ensure the transfer of U.S. bases outside Japan, including to Guam.
Leon Guerrero told Tamaki she understands the need to alleviate the burden on Okinawa and wants to accept the relocation of some U.S. Marine Corps personnel to Guam as soon as possible, Tamaki told reporters.
The realignment plan revised by Japan and the United States in 2012 stipulates that approximately 9,000 of the roughly 19,000 marines in Okinawa will be relocated outside Japan, to such places as Guam and Hawaii.
The plan also includes the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the crowded city of Ginowan to the less densely populated Henoko district of Nago, also within Okinawa.
The move from Ginowan to the Henoko coastal area of Nago, which involves landfill work, has run into stiff opposition from residents and environmental groups, but the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing ahead.