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Joint announcement between Japan, U.S.

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - As expected a joint announcement between Japan and the United States was made after today's 2+2 meeting in the nation's capitol that the 2014 deadline to complete the realignment of forces in Japan would not be met. Specifically Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa stated "We also decided on the v-shape configuration for the runways in connection with the Futenma relocation issue, and I think this is very important progress towards the relocation of the facilities. We decided to remove the deadline of 2014 for its completion, but – in order to avoid the continued – forever continuing use of Futenma Air Station. We also confirmed a mutual strive for earliest possible relocation," 

Defense Secretary Robert Gates added "As a Pacific power, the U.S. remains committed to maintaining a robust forward presence in East Asia. The decision announced today on the Futenma replacement facility configuration, along with other elements of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap, shows we are making steady progress toward modernizing U.S. forward presence in the region. It is critical that we move forward with the relocation of Futenma and construction of facilities in Guam for the U.S. Marines. Doing so will reduce the impact of our presence on local residents in Okinawa while allowing us to maintain capabilities critical to the alliance in Japan.

  In terms of concerns from Senate Armed Service Committee Chairperson Carl Levin, Ranking member John McCain and Sen. Jim Webb who called the realignment plans for Japan and Korea "unaffordable", "unworkable" and "undoable" Secretary Gates and Clinton told their Japanese counterparts that their letter about the realignment was a manifestation of growing congressional impatience with the lack of progress " We both reaffirmed the U.S. Government's commitment to the 2006 realignment plan, but at the same time emphasized the importance of concrete progress over the course of the next year," Gates said.

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