Japanese officials to discuss possible realignment of U.S. forces
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono plans to visit Okinawa in mid-January for talks with Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine concerning possible realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, the agency announced Tuesday.
According to Japanese news reports, Ono will discuss the central government’s policy on reducing the burden of the U.S. bases on Okinawa while maintaining a regional security threat deterrence. U.S. bases on Okinawa represent about 75 percent of the land used solely by U.S. forces in the country and more than half the U.S. troops in Japan are based on Okinawa.
Ono became head of the Defense Agency on Sept. 27 when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi reshuffled his Cabinet. While on Okinawa he is also expected to visit Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, the focus of protests following the Aug. 13 crash of a helicopter at Okinawa International University.
During a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, he said he wants to improve the administration of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to improve cooperation in future accidents involving U.S. military property.