CANBERRA — Elections in August gave Japan a new government, headed by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. In electing him and his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the Japanese people, like the American people less than a year earlier, were opting for change. Remarkably, however, what followed on the part of President Barack Obama’s United States has been a campaign of unrelenting pressure to block any such change.
The core issue has been the disposition of American military presence in Okinawa and the U.S. insistence that Hatoyama honor an agreement known as the Guam Treaty. Under the Guam agreement of February 2009, adopted as a treaty under special legislation in May, 8,000 U.S. Marines were to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam, and the U.S. Marine base at Futenma was to be transferred to Henoko in Nago City in northern Okinawa, where Japan would build a new base. Japan would also pay $6.09 billion toward the Guam transfer cost.
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