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TOKYO — The top U.S. military commander in Japan on Thursday reaffirmed his support for a long-term plan to realign American troops here despite recent calls for a review of the realignment agreement by Japanese lawmakers.

The criticisms come mainly from the Democratic Party of Japan, a political party looking to move into the majority in next month’s elections. In recent weeks, DPJ leaders have pledged to review spending involving U.S. military moves, including plans to relocate 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

On Thursday, Lt. Gen. Edward Rice, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, declined to comment directly on the pending elections. But he did say he believes the alignment plan, struck in May 2006, offers the best solutions to move U.S. troops from Japan’s more densely populated areas.

“It’s not maybe everything that everybody wanted,” Rice said at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan here. “But it certainly is progress in terms of both providing for the continued defense of Japan and security in the region and decreasing the impact of the presence of U.S. forces on the local communities.

“I believe it will continue to be important that we support this agreement,” he added. “It took three years to negotiate. As a package, it’s very positive for both sides.”


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