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US and Japan issue Joint Statement

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - A joint statement issued by the United States and Japan confirms that the two countries are working on separating the highly contentious issue of the Futenma Replacement Facility from plans to relocate thousands of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

According to the joint statement, "As part of this joint effort our two governments have started official discussions to adjust our current posture plans set forth in the Realignment Roadmap, in particular delinking both the movement of Marines to Guam and resulting land returns south of Kadena from progress on the Futenma Replacement Facility. We are also reviewing the unit composition and the number of Marines who will relocate to Guam and we continue to be committed to achieving an end-state Marine presence remaining on Okinawa in line with the Roadmap."

The controversy over the Futenma Replacement Facility has long stalled the marines relocation from Okinawa to Guam. In separating the two issues it will allow the relocation to occur inspite of intense opposition in Japan over where the FRF will be built. According to the joint statement the U.S. and Japan do not plan to deviate from the original 2006 agreement in terms of where it will be situated. "We believe that the current Futenma Replacement Facility plan is the only viable way forward," according to the Joint Statement by both governments.

Although it's been widely reported that the number of Marines to be relocated from Okinawa to Guam would be reduced from 8,000 to 4,700, the joint statement did not provide any revised figures other than to state those discussions remain ongoing.

"In the weeks and months ahead, our two governments will be working to address a number of issues associated with these adjustments. This joint effort advances the strategic objectives of the Alliance and reflects our shared vision for the maintenance of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region," the press release stated.
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