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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga is urging his U.S. counterpart to consider making some compromises on a plan to realign U.S. troops in Japan.

Nukaga was in Washington earlier this week to discuss the details for a final report on realignment due in March. He told Japanese reporters that he asked U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to consider making some changes to the realignment plan outlined in an Oct. 29 interim report.

According to a transcript of his comments and media reports, Nukaga would not discuss what he would like to see changed in the report.

“We have already reached an accord that acknowledges the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance,” he said. “For instance, the bilateral security alliance plays an important role not only for the security of Japan, but also in expanding the security of the region.”

He also said: “We also shared a common understanding that we must fulfill our responsibilities in the alliance. Toward that end we agreed that we must succeed in the realignment as the first step.”

However, there is much local opposition to the realignment plan. On Okinawa, prefectural and municipal leaders oppose constructing a new air facility on Camp Schwab to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Opposition also is strong in Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures, where air operations at MCAS Iwakuni are to be expanded, according to the agreement.

Nukaga said he told Rumsfeld “that Japan is also making an effort in the realignment while actively engaging in restructuring of the self-defense forces,” according to the transcript. He added that he also told Rumsfeld “certain compromises from U.S. side are necessary to succeed with the realignment,” Nukaga added.

“Secretary Rumsfeld said that he considered the realignment extremely important and he committed himself to resolving the issue,” Nukaga said. “He said that the most important points were speed and timing. In that sense we both agreed that the process must be further accelerated toward the final report.”

He declined to spell out what compromises might have to be made in order to win local support for the realignment plan.

“Negotiations are ongoing,” he told the reporters. “I would like to refrain from elaborating on it at this time, as I believe it would not be beneficial to the ongoing discussions.”

He said he and Rumsfeld agreed to accelerate working-level talks with the goal of drafting an implementation plan by the end of January to begin seeking local support before finalizing the realignment plan by March.


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