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Japanese Leader Backtracks on Revising Base Agreement


Japanese Leader Backtracks on Revising Base Agreement
By Martin Fackler and Hiroko Tabuchi | NY Times | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

Backtracking on a prominent campaign pledge, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told angry residents of Okinawa on Tuesday that it was unrealistic to expect the United States to move its entire Marine Corps air base off the island.

Mr. Hatoyama’s government could hang in the balance. He has pledged to come up with a plan by the end of this month to relocate the Marine air base and resolve a stubborn problem that has created months of discord with Washington. His delays and apparent flip-flopping on the issue have fed a growing feeling of disappointment in the prime minister’s leadership, driving his approval ratings below 30 percent.

Visiting Okinawa for the first time since becoming prime minister, Mr. Hatoyama asked residents to entertain a compromise that would keep some of the functions of the base on the island while the government explored moving some facilities elsewhere.

“Realistically speaking, it is impossible” to move the entire base, called Futenma, off the island, he said. “We’re facing a situation that is realistically difficult to move everything out of the prefecture. We must ask the people of Okinawa to share the burden.” Read more.

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